Luke Swank was called a modernist photographer. Most of his work dated in the 1930’s due to an untimely death in 1944. Luke’s grew up in an affluent family, where his father had diversified his business interests in different areas. Later Luke would live off of a trust from business ventures while pursuing his hobby of photography. Luke went to college at Pennsylvania Agricultural College (now Pennsylvania State University) and enlisted in the Army. He married Grace Ryan and had a daughter.
Luke Swank was a self-taught photographer. He claims to have learned a lot thru trial and error. In 1930 he was selling cars in his hometown of Johnstown Pennsylvania and two years later the Museum of Modern Art; New York featured his work of Steel Plant. Swank experienced success at subsequent shows, but eventually the depression had its effect on him as well and he had to get a job and support his family, now with an added son. He soon went to work for H.J. Heinz Company where he started a season of food photography.
Victorian Farmhouse by Luke Swank
The photograph called Victorian Farmhouse was created 1940-1943. I was drawn to this picture initially because it looks like the cliché Haunted House. I can’t tell if the house is old deserted or if it is the black and white coloring making it look like it is old and decrepit. This could be a very well kept Victorian home decorated with all the colors that were popular. If I were to find an old deserted Victorian home today and took a picture, I think it might look very similar. I love the sky, where there is no sign of clouds. It looks like a charcoal drawing that has been smoothed and blended. Or maybe there is a dust storm coming up behind the house. If this is so, the chickens in the front yard are not concerned. The chickens are the only thing in this photo that offer up a little hope….