Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

John Vachon's America: Photographs and Letters from the Depression to World War II

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

John Vachon's America: Photographs and Letters from the Depression to World War II

Article excerpt

ART John Vachon's America: Photographs and Letters from the Depression to World War II, by John Vachon. Edited by Miles Orvell. California, December 2003. $49.95

In the 19305, to accurately document the condition of farm life in America, the Farm security Administration dispatched "more than forty photographers into the field and across the United States to collect images of American life that would result in an archive of 165,000 classified FSA prints"-this from the introduction by Miles Orvell to this handsome, fascinating book.

John Vachon, of course, was one of these photographers. This book collects a representative sample of the thousands of photographs that Vachon took. The images are sharp, clear, splendidly reproduced on heavy paper: the book itself, I might add here, is a pleasure to hold. How good a photographer was Vachon? I'm out of my depth here. A few of the images seem a bit contrived, or staged, for effect: a young man sleeps on a wooden bench under a "No Loafing" sign at a railroad station; some are pleasingly humdrum: men sit in the grass outside a baseball stadium, watching the game under the windscreens attached to the chain-link fence; some few are wonderful: "Man and Boy Crossing the Street" I cannot possibly do justice to in words-two figures, seen from high above, stride across a wide city street, holding hands, the little boy in white pants leading the way, the man, in black suit and hat, striding beside and behind. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.