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Subway Portrait


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Subway Portrait

Artwork Details


Walker Evans
American, 1903–1975




Gelatin silver print

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


From 1938 to 1941, Walker Evans descended into the New York City subways with a camera hidden under his jacket and a cable trigger up his sleeve. Without allowing his subjects to be aware of his intentions, he captured candid portraits of eighty-two people. Citing the nineteenth century painting “Third Class Carriage” by Honoré Daumier as his inspiration, Evans sought to record people in a realm that leveled society, freeing them from their class statuses and their constant state of self-awareness. In a draft that he prepared in anticipation for the publication of these images Evans wrote, “The portraits on these pages were caught by a hidden camera, in the hands of a penitent spy and an apologetic voyeur.”


Purchase with funds from the Atlanta Foundation

Image Copyright

© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art