Evans' Images: Architecture
|The image at left, of St.Matthew's School, in Alabama, 1936,
is an example of Evans' affinity for finding architectural beauty in the common.
The beauty of the building lies in the texture, and geometric patterns
of the wood.
There are different shades of grey among the two roofs, the top part
of the wall, most of the wall, the doors,
the windows, the stair, and of course the sign, that says,"St Matthew's
School." Also, these various shades are rendered differently
by the sunlight or shade--and, do not exclude the surrounding trees. In fact,
the various shades of the house might be due to the various types of trees
from which it was made (I do not know how to build a house...).
The point, though, is that Evans
realizes the beauty in all of this, and makes his picture
He is aware of the differences in light(sunlight and shade), in geometric
patterns and shapes, and in contrast to the wilderness surrounding it.
Evans includes the surrounding trees to give you a sense of place. This is the school of a poor, rural, farming community--it is not on main street, across from the movie theatre of a typical urban American city.
Technically, Evans relies on long depth of field to keep everything
in focus, and he acheives maximum rendering of texture, by using the
8x10 (large format) view camera,
which allows for a crisp, detailed image--in contrast to the "grainy" image
produced by enlarging a small format negative(35 mm).
| Much of the same goes for this image of a tin building-front
in Alabama, 1936. Evans said of the scene: [I] "was taken
in by the cross light on silvery, corrugated
tin. This was just in itself so beautiful, I set my camera up,
knocked over by the barren look of the false front, and how the
pile of dirt added to it."|
Evans' comments explain his artistic tendencies, which, for him, seem to have precedence over his mere assignment to document. However, as a result, the pictures that Evans saw in an artistic sense, came to be used by the FSA, in a documentary sense.
Evans, in a 1971 interview said: "When you say 'documentary,' you have to have a sophisticated ear to receive that word. It should be documentary style, beacuse documentary is police photography of a scene and a murder...That's real document. You see art is really useless, and a document has use. And therefore art is never a document, but it can adopt that style. I do it. I'm called a documentary photographer. But that presupposes a quite subtle knowledge of the distinction."
Thus, Evans fused the gap between photography as an art, and photography as a research method, by taking the regular and making it unique, by taking the common and making it beautiful, and by taking the specific and making it speak for the broad.
As James Curtis writes in Mind's Eye, Mind's Truth:
Evans believed his photographs were