Arts letters

Robert A.M. Stern Architects LLP
Harvard Law School’s new building on Massachusetts Avenue.

Missing modernity

I own a gift store on Mass. Ave. and have walked by “Threepeat’’ many times in the last few years. I was extremely disappointed in the building from the moment I saw it begin to take shape - count me in with those who consider it a pompous, oversized, bland, wasted opportunity (“Tradition embodied at Harvard,’’ Arts & Movies, Dec. 11). I think current buildings should actually be modern and reflect our time, not poorly imitate the past. Columbia University just added a new building by José Rafael Moneo, and across the street, Barnard College recently opened a new student center designed by Weiss/Manfredi architects. You might have issues with either of these buildings, but they are clearly original designs. After reading Robert Campbell’s review of the law building, I am a little baffled by his conclusion that “it’s a good building.’’ I beg to disagree, and think the things he admires - the entrances on Mass. Ave., the cafeteria, etc. - could easily exist in a very, very different building.

LINDA GIVEN Somerville

Evans, enlarged

My thanks for Mark Feeney’s thoughtful review of the Walker Evans exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum (“Walker Evans, big and small,’’ Arts, Dec. 18).

As executor of the Evans estate for 19 years I have given more than casual thought to the size of his prints. In his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1938 there were a number of enlargements approaching 16 by 20 inches. These were made by Evans using Berenice Abbott’s 5-by-7-inch enlarger. His desire for larger images prompted cutting 5-by-7 samplings from his 8-by-10 negatives in order to make these larger prints.


In MoMA’s Evans retrospective in 1970, Evans and [curator John] Szarkowski colluded to have 13 of his images enlarged to 6 by 8 feet.

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He also routinely had enlargements made for sale in the early 1970s. Certainly not all of Evans’s work profits from such enlargement.

It has been my pleasure to make these digital prints and to design the wall plan for this exhibit. My aim was to show the continuation of Evans’s themes that extended throughout his career. Also, there was an attempt to dislodge Evans from the pigeonhole called “Great Depression Photographer.’’

Evans’s vision involved collecting information about how we define ourselves with the things we make. Images with a wealth of detail are obviously more accessible in a larger size. Feeney is not alone in preferring the smaller prints. And if you have sharp young eyes or a fine magnifying glass, that information is available. How is it we do not fault larger paintings? Why are they not poster-like as well? Is it perhaps tradition and only tradition. Today photographers are exceeding these sizes by some feet.

JOHN T. HILL Bethany, Conn.

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