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Mixed MessagesAmerican Correspondences in Visual and Verbal Practices$
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Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781784991500

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784991500.001.0001

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Fragments of the future: Walker Evans’s polaroids

Fragments of the future: Walker Evans’s polaroids

(p.51) 3 Fragments of the future: Walker Evans’s polaroids
Mixed Messages

Caroline Blinder

Manchester University Press

The last series of photographs taken by Walker Evans in 1974 were polaroids of singular letters, signage, and other fragments of the urban landscape. This chapter investigates how Evans’s polaroids return to and reconstitute his earlier still life images through the concept of the romantic fragment, read here as the attempt to create a new vocabulary, or alphabet, for American photography. While the polaroid format enabled Evans to ‘make new’ many of the same subjects he had already photographed during the Depression, it also continued a life-long interest in what actually constitutes a photographic language. In an environment in which objects aren't genuinely photographable until they are verifiably obsolete, Evans sought to regenerate the visionary abilities of the artist by getting ever closer to his subjects.

Keywords:   Walker Evans, Polaroids, Schlegel, Fragment, Romanticism

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