Two 1971 Walker Evans interviews came into my inbox this week. Here's the link to the transcript of one of them, to complement the one that ASX presented last week. I guess Evans was doing a lot of talking that year in conjunction with his MoMA retrospective.
"PAUL CUMMINGS: Could you describe in some kind of terms what makes a good photograph for you? I mean if you look at ten photographs what are the qualities that you would look for to kind of separate them?
WALKER EVANS: Detachment, lack of sentimentality, originality, a lot of things that sound rather empty. I know what they mean. Let’s say, “visual impact” may not mean much to anybody. I could point it out though. I mean it’s a quality that something has or does not have. Coherence. Well, some things are weak, some things are strong. You just have to…. Well, if you’ve got something in front of you and you’ve got some students you throw those words around and point them out.
PAUL CUMMINGS: What would visual impact be? Would that be the way the photograph is
WALKER EVANS: I purposely took that because it is a vague phrase. To me there are varying degrees of that in the picture. Sometimes it may be that that isn’t the quality you want. It’s important that – I can show you a picture that’s strong in it, and one that’s weak in it. Well, just like all these qualities that…. A man that’s interested in theatre may say, “That isn’t theatre,” or “That isn’t good theatre.” I often say that in photography. Or that it’s too pictorial; that’s another thing I’m against. These are words that you throw around to make your students interested and make them come alive."
See the artist's work on the wall in a mini-retrospective of sorts, trhough the end of January 2012, at the Florence Griswold Museum: http://www.flogris.org/exhibitions_11Evans.php