Who Took that Photo ? Part II

7 Jun

Before television (in fact, before rural electrification) periodicals did what some tv programs still attempt to do. Before Henry Luce invented Life magazine, his pet project was Fortune (upon which he concentrated his fawning attention and upon which he lavished many dollars, employing talented artists, accomplished or yet to be. James Agee before he made his mark (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men) (he was awarded Yale’s Younger Poets prize in 1934), was hired to travel to southeastern Alabama to write about white tenant farmers.He was joined by Walker Evans and they spent two months in Hale County, Alabama, living with three different tenant families. The fruits of that project were never published (until recently). The newly renascent Baffler #19, editor John Summers takes great pride in uncovering and publishing a good chunk of this mislaid gem. As John Jeremiah Sullivan observes

That’s the first thing to be said about this essay: Fortune was crazy not to run it. It was a failure of nerve, and a lost chance at running one of the great magazine pieces from that era. But who knows? It’s possible no one ever actually read it. I’ve worked at many magazines; you’d be stunned. Also: fifty pages on malnourished, fatigue-racked poor people? It was Fortune. Magazines do like having advertisers. Which only makes what The Baffler and Melville House have done more valuable.

 Cotton Tenants: Three Families by ames Agee and Walker Evans

Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee and Walker Evans

Sullivan is referring to the recently published 30,000 word essay in book form, Cotton Tenants: Three Families James Agee and Walker Evans’ (Melville House) with an introduction by John Summers. I leave it to you suss outwhat it signifies that 70 plus years later Fortune magaizne is a running a review of the book in its June 10 issue

Here are some of Evans’s photos:

Photograph: Walker Evans

Photograph: Walker Evans

Photograph; Walker Evans

Photograph; Walker Evans

Photograph: Walker Evans

Photograph: Walker Evans

and a slide show here

This Is the Day: The March on Washington  by  Leonard Freed

This Is the Day: The March on Washington by
Leonard Freed

And yet another reminder of the power and poignancy of black and white photography is This Is the Day: The March on Washington (Getty Publications) by Magnum photographer Leonard Freed with textual embellishment by Michael Eric Dyson, Paul Farber and Julian Bond.The March, you will recall, took place on August 28, 1963 with a quarter of a million people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in a peaceful protest demanding equal rights and economic equality for African Americans. It was where Martin Luther King declaimed his famous “I have a dream…” Though
Malcolm X did refer to the march as the “Farce on Washington.”

Freed’s tome includes 79 images culled from innumerable photos he shot that day—before, during, and after the march. Included in this array is an account of the preparations leading up to the march by civil rights activist,author and statesman Julian Bond and some thoughts on its significance by Dyson.

You can find a sampling of Freed’s photographs here

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).


Currently reading The Celestials by Karen Shepard (Tin House)

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