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Farmhouse, Westchester, New York
Farmhouse, Westchester is one of the photographs that Evans made while exploring the countryside near New York, looking for the substance of American life. It exemplifies his direct and plainspoken style, influenced by American literature and by Ben Shahn. Evans confronted his subjects with an observant gaze. He claimed that he did not consciously think about composition, but that he was "very aware of it consciously, instinctively." This instinctive understanding of composition is borne out by his recognition that a tree, an automobile and a farmhouse could be aligned in such a way as to create a perfectly balanced arrangement. The dramatic interplay of geometry is the most striking feature of this photograph of an early Ford parked alongside a farmhouse. Three rooflines dominate the composition and create a series of horizontal planes. The main building's siding underscores the horizontals, while the siding on a single-story extension balances these with some verticals. Two brick chimneys flanking the ends of the farmhouse and curtains hanging on the lower story's windows extend the sense of verticality. A tall tree, spreading its bare branches throughout the upper half of the image, enlivens the composition, juxtaposing nature's irregular patterns with the farmhouse's formal structure. This is the direct viewpoint, a diagrammatic side view that Evans preferred, without complex angles or enhanced lighting. With clear black and white, and shades of gray, he intended clearly to capture a moment in time. Searching for a straightforward, personal vision, he combined his own ideas with intuition.
from Acton, A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame: Twentieth Century (Notre Dame, 2019)