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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Attributed to Walker Evans, American (St. Louis, Mo., USA 1903 - 1975 New Haven, Conn., USA)
Untitled (copy photograph of Ben Shahn's Rikers Island Penitentiary mural study: panels 1 and 2, north wall, "Police Line up")
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States, New York State, New York City
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Gelatin silver print
image: 25 x 31.9 cm (9 13/16 x 12 9/16 in.)
mount: 25.2 x 31.8 cm (9 15/16 x 12 1/2 in.)
panel 1: 14.5 x 16.7 cm (5 11/16 x 6 9/16 in.)
panel 2: 14.6 x 14.8 cm (5 3/4 x 5 13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: recto of the mount, lower center, black ink, typed: #1 and #2
    NORTH WALL (over entrance panel)

    PoliceLine up--causes of crime symbolically suggested---
    Unemployment ["Unemployment" underlined in graphite] (men on line looking for jobs)---Overpublicizing ["Overpublicizing" underlined in graphite]
    of crime ["crime" underlined in graphite] (homeless men reading lurid news stories)---Mixed ["Mixed" underlined in graphite]
    racial groups ["racial groups" underlined in graphite] (rogues gallery) Criminals own feeling of mis- ["mis-" underlined in graphite]
    fortune ["fortune" underlined in graphite] (hard luck, Friday 13th) Mechanical classification ["Mechanical classification" underlined in graphite]
    by police ["by police" underlined in graphite] (police targets, child killer, gunman, racketeer)


Recorded Ownership History
Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Roosevelt, New Jersey, from Ben Shahn, gift to the Harvard University Art Museums, 2000. Stephen Lee Taller found this object in the former studio of Ben Shahn.
Ben Shahn, Roosevelt, New Jersey, from Walker Evans?, 1935, [death], 1969.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Bernarda Bryson Shahn
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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Publication History

  • Davida Fernandez-Barkan, "Of Murals and Men: Carceral Aesthetics and Ben Shahn's Rikers Island Project", Smithsonian Journal of American Art, University of Chicago Press (Chicago and Washington D.C., 2023), Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 32-57, pp. 42-43, ill., (color)

Verification Level

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