Luke Swank began photographing in the mid-late 1920s when industry and progress were being celebrated. Yet it was not until the effects of the Depression were felt that Swank developed his signature style and turned his camera to vanishing scenes of American life. Vernacular architecture was one of his main subjects. While Walker Evans and Aaron Siskind were concurrently examining sites in Pennsylvania, as had Charles Sheeler twenty years prior, the formal elements of Swank’s compositions are recognizable and distinct. These include compression of planes through dark shadow, light and dominant line, as well as wider landscape contexts. In closer views where façades fill the frame, texture and graphic elements are accentuated.
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Collection: Carnegie Museum of Art - Claudia Elliot - Estate of Luke Swank - MoMA
Text: L. Parker Stephenson Photographs