Kenyon College

Roadside Gas Sign


Artist: Walker Evans
Title of Work: Roadside Gas Sign
Year: 1930
Material: Gelatin silver print.
Dimensions: 4 x 6.5 inches.
Photo Line: Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
Collection Credit: Allen Memorial Art museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, Mrs. F.F. Prentiss Fund, 1970.18

Resembling an abstract assemblage, this gas sign serves as an organic relic of unintentional beauty and artistic tension within a space that has fallen on hard times. Probably painted over by many hands over several years, an imbued sense of history and nostalgia comes forth from the layered sign. Evans approaches the subject with a stark elegance, urging the viewer to appreciate the beauty in the decrepit and vandalized. This expressive image reveals the artistic intention behind Evans’s style of documentation. The decontextualized subject matter and use of cropping suggest a transformative style within the medium of photography. The style is raw and undoctored with a rigorous directness. It boldly elevates its subject matter to a greater level of form and sophistication.

–Lily Kaizer ‘12 Gund Gallery Associate