For almost 40 years, beginning in the early 1960s, New York artist John Evans (b. 1932) produced a collage each day, cutting and pasting the fragments of the day onto the painted pages of his diary. Evans used stamps, labels, photographs, fabric and other oddments, intriguingly juxtaposed, to produce animated architectonic forms in distinctive palettes. The result is a stunning visual record of Evans' journey and our own through the last four decades of the 20th century.
As a painter, John Evans was greatly influenced by the early American modernists. His canvases of the late 1960s and early 1970s explore the geometry of the New York landscape and inform both the structure and content of his collages. His contribution to 20th century collage has been formidable. It is in the company of such artists as Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg that his work belongs. For Evans, as for each of these artists, collage is both medium and language: a means to express the infinite variety of lived experience.
No city embodies the spirit of collage with greater clarity and immediacy than New York, and it is precisely on its streets that John Evans' life in collage has been lived. With the new century under way, it is entirely fitting that we present this long overdue tribute to an important American artist. The New-York Historical Society is an ideal venue for these visual diaries, as it holds complementary collections of manuscript and illustrated diaries, as well as an unrivaled cache of advertising ephemera.