Penny Picture Display, Birmingham by Walker Evans (1936)

The photograph “Penny Picture Display, Birmingham” by Walker Evans was taken in 1936. The image captures a collection of portrait photographs that are arranged in a grid-like pattern on a display board. The board contains a large number of individual portraits, showing a variety of people, most likely patrons of a photo studio. In the center of the display, the word “STUDIO” is placed in bold, oversized letters, interrupting the grid of portraits and drawing attention to the context in which these images were created.

The collection of photographs featured in the display appears to represent a cross-section of society at the time, with people of various ages, genders, and possibly social backgrounds. Each portrait presents a snippet of personality and attire, offering a glimpse into the lives and styles of the era. The “Penny Picture Display” works both as a document of the photographic practice of the time and a social document providing insight into the community served by the studio. Walker Evans, known for his work during the Great Depression, often aimed to provide an honest, unglamorized portrayal of American life during that period, and this photograph is an excellent example of his documentary style.

Other Photographs from Walker Evans

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