Barber Shop, New Orleans

Executed in 1935, printed 1971
Silver gelatin photograph

Evans’ signature, and the nearly indiscernible portfolio and edition notation, in pencil, in an unknown hand, on mount recto.


In a Sidewalk and Shopfront, New Orleans, 1935, the viewer sees the emergence of a woman in a striped blouse out of the barbershop styled striped façade, a serendipitous occurrence. The French Opera Barber Shop, that offers Ladies neck trims and hair bobs for 15 and 25 cents, emphasized handmade artisanal qualities. For instance, even through their stylized lettering. This photograph illustrates the notion of progress that arose from economic necessity.

“The much-published photograph of the woman in the doorway of the French Opera Barber shop sidewalk and shopfront, New Orleans 1935 – with the bold zebra stripes of the storefront and the sinuous stripes on the blouse of the woman standing in the doorway … is a glimpse of the realities of commercial life: “Ladies Neck Trim 15 cents;” Home of Perfecto Hair Restorer.” It represents a pocket of resistance to more conventional good taste, a kind of manic display of barber pole striping down to the light globe above the doorway – an antic moment, a celebration of an unexpected convergence. ” – Walker Evans by James R. Mellow

This picture is an example of the richness and the straight-forward style of Walker Evans. The composition is linear and dimensional, the image is unadorned but visually sophisticated. Therefore, it is indicative of Walker Evans’s aesthetics and mindset. It shows one building front, one figure, and one location. However, in its singularity, it stands for the cumulative force of hundreds of such individuals, hundreds of such businesses, and hundreds of such locations.


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