As an elemental part of our landscape and our history, barns evoke childhood memories for many of us, recollections of a simpler way of life. Regardless of their size or shape, their forms follow their functions. They are honest. They are beautiful. And they are rapidly vanishing. Across the land we see abandoned farms with barns falling down, being torn down, and only occasionally being converted to other uses. As urban sprawl eats up the countryside and food-producing Goliaths put small farmers out of business, the need for old barns has diminished. For most of his life as a photographer, David Plowden has admired and photographed barns. In recent years, as their disappearance accelerated, he made it his mission to document these beautiful structures, before they too are lost. The result is this beautiful book, his hymn to the American barn.
"For once, an album of Plowden's superb black-and-white photographs is classified as an art book rather than, because he photographs functional buildings and machines, a technology tome. And perhaps no other Plowden book is as obviously artistic as this display of dairy barns in the northeastern U.S and southeast Canada. The vast planes of barn walls, doors, and roofs, usually set upon vast planes of prairie and against vast planes of sky, inevitably suggest, to art cognoscenti, the formal concerns of cubism and its American realist cognate, precisionism, especially since the latter was developed by painters and photographers. Yes, these pictures look like Charles Sheeler's paintings and photos, but it is doubtful that Plowden had those precedents in mind. His lovely prefatory memoir never mentions other art, and in the acknowledgments, he calls the book more of a poem . . . an elegy. That is, it fits with the rest of his work, which affectionately, respectfully records a world of work that is vanishing from North America. --Ray Olson Copyright 2003 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.