3 Weeks in Cuba: Walker Evans & Ernest Hemingway

July 5, 2018 - October 10, 2018

Custom House Museum | Foyer

The collection of prints offered in this exhibition is the product of the chance meeting of Walker Evans and Ernest Hemingway in Cuba during the spring of 1933. Evans arrived in Cuba in May on assignment to illustrate a political book called The Crime of Cuba, an expose of the corrupt regime of President Gerardo Machado. At the same time, Hemingway sailed to Cuba on board a borrowed boat, the Anita, where he fished, drank and gathered material for his next novel, To Have and Have Not. Evans and Hemingway met purely by coincidence, spending many afternoons and evenings together, forming an ephemeral friendship.

Evans’ contract with the book publisher provided only enough money for a two-week stay in Havana – after that he was penniless. He contacted his new friend for help, writing to Hemingway on stationery from a Western Union in Havana and addressed to the hotel where the author was staying. Evans said, ‘…I will change my mind and take of loan of ten or fifteen dollars if you still feel like that.’ Hemingway, lent him enough money to stay another week. The author noted the transaction on the back of the envelope, ‘loaned $25’.

The photographs on display are part of a larger collection taken and printed by Evans while he was in Cuba. He was concerned that his pictures might be a source of danger, or might be confiscated by Machado operatives if they fell into the wrong hands. Evans gave 46 prints to Hemingway to take back to America, as a precautionary measure, on his boat. Hemingway and Evans never corresponded nor met face to face again. Over the years, each man commented on the other, their friendship, and their time together – those weeks in Havana had a lasting effect on each of them.

Evan was able to leave Cuba with his negatives. His photographs provide a visual account of Havana in the year 1933 – its people, its ethnic diversity, its shops, professions, the look and feel of its street and urban life. They were eventually included in The Crime of Cuba, as well as being featured in gallery exhibitions and published in several magazines.

3 Weeks in Cuba is on display in the Custom House Museum Foyer from July 5, 2018 – October 10, 2018.

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