It’s not every day that we at Fortune get to cover ourselves. Today, we are making an exception.
Here’s why: Fortune, launched nearly 90 years ago, has long been noted for its photography. One of the most well-known and influential contributors to that reputation is Walker Evans, a Missouri-born photojournalist who started doing work for the magazine in the 1930s and eventually served as our photo editor, a tenure that lasted 20 years. Starting this week (and through February 4, 2018), a collection of Evans’ works will be on exhibit at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.
The museum gave a press preview of the collection last week, which included several Fortune covers and photo essays. Evans, born in 1903, is best known for documenting the effects of the Great Depression. His documentary style of photography not only captured the suffering and strength of the nation through portraits, but also via everyday details like junked automobiles and urban architecture. Unlike most other photojournalists at that time, he also wrote and laid out his photo essays himself, taking ownership of his photo essays from start to finish.
One such package, on display at the museum, is titled “People and Places in Trouble.” The story, published in our March 1961 issue, shows a range of distressed subjects throughout the Eastern region of our country. But Evans’s writing is just as harrowing as his photos: “They speak with their eyes. People out of work are not given to talking much about the one thing on their minds. You only sense, by indirection, degrees of anger, shades of humiliation, and echoes of fear.”
In many ways, Evans’ documentation and commentary on life in mid 20th century America is just as relevant today as it was back in his day. For a deeper view into Evans and his works, click through the gallery above.