KEY WEST, Fla.—In 1933, Ernest Hemingway and the soon-to-be famed photographer Walker Evans spent three weeks together in the bars and bistros of Havana.
But for decades, the tale of their friendship and influence on one another’s work remained hidden away in a storage room of a Key West bar.
In those boxes and crates, Benjamin “Dink” Bruce discovered 46 original photographs taken by Evans in Havana in 1933. Together with the Key West historical society, Bruce unraveled the mystery of the photographs and two Americans working together in the midst of a repressive Cuban dictator, Geraldo Machado.
He found the pictures published in a book of Walker Evans’ work from Cuba. Then he discovered a letter Evans wrote to Hemingway in Havana that says he will give the writer some pictures.
Although the encounter was short, it influenced the work of both men. Hemingway describes some of the pictures in his novel, “To Have and Have Not.” And Evans later said that Hemingway helped him approach his art with the eye of a journalist.
Their story and the photographs are now on display at Key West’s Museum of Art & History at the Custom House.