THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 1988 MoMA
EDITION OF THE BOOK NOT (REPEAT
NOT) THE BOOKS-ON-BOOKS FACSIMILE
EDITION WHICH IS WHAT ALL THE OTHER
REVIEWS ARE ABOUT. AMAZON HAVE PUT
MY REVIEW WITH THIS FACSIMILE AND
THE 1988 EDITION. Confusing? Yes I know!
What can I saw about this remarkable photo book that hasn't been said before? Well, not too much. Actually not all the photos are American, three were taken in Cuba in 1932. I prefer the second section with thirty-seven photos of buildings and the man-made landscape in the eastern part of the country. Several of these are regularly reprinted, year after year, in books, magazines and now on the net in blogs or sites dealing with architecture.
The history of this famous book is quite fascinating. Over the years there have been four editions. Originally published by MoMA in 1938 (the five thousand copies were letterpress printed) to coincide with an exhibition of a hundred of Evans photos. Oddly forty-seven of these don't appear in the book and thirty-three in the book didn't make it to the exhibition. Even photos that appeared in both had different cropping or were from different negatives of the same event.
The second edition, in 1962, was again published by MoMA in an edition of four thousand copies, letterpress printed from the 1938 plates. The third edition, with the photos now out of copyright, was published by the East River Press. This edition is best avoided because it was printed by offset-litho from pages in the 1938 book rather than from the original prints.
This, the fourth edition, was again published by MoMA to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary in 1988. The eighty-seven photos here are printed as duotones, using a very fine screen, with prints made from the original negatives, but one exception which was made from the printed photo in the 1938 book because the negative had been destroyed.
The original 1938 exhibition photos have long been forgotten, (though if you are interested they are shown in Walker Evans the Hungry Eye) so it is this book that carries on his legacy. Unfortunately prices vary enormously for the different editions but you can see what pages in the original book looked like by checking out the Walker Evans: American Photographs (Books on Books).
***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.