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General store interior. Moundville, Alabama by Walker Evans
General store interior. Moundville, Alabama by Walker Evans

General store interior. Moundville, Alabama, 1936

Walker Evans

This image was part of a body of work by government-sponsored photographers who fanned out across America, documenting the effects of the Great Depression. The artist’s medium, gelatin silver print, and method, a large-format camera, create a creamy, richly saturated image. His subject, an Alabama general store, is packed with historical details. The goods on offer — O.K. Soap, Snow Ball self-rising flour — and the room’s decor, like the calendar at upper right and the Coca-Cola pinup poster at upper left — ground the image in time and place: small-town, Depression-era America, when stores stocked staples, not luxuries, for consumers who counted pennies to make ends meet.

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Credit
New York Public Library
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