As a student of Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City in the early 1900s, Paul Strand (1890 – 1976) made a trip to Alfred Stieglitz’ Little Galleries of the Photo-Succession at 291 Fifth Avenue, later known simply at 291, and viewed the work of Edward Steichen, Gertrude Käsebier, Clarence White, and Frederick Evans. That trip that led him to choose photography as a career, and his earliest work was consciously modeled after the pictorialist work of Steichen and White. He eventually became a contributor to Stieglitz’ influential journal Camera Work and was given a one-man show at the gallery, an uncommon honor among the artists in the Stieglitz stable.

Strand, belonging to the generation just after the pictorialists, eventually adopted a more reserved aesthetic and made photographs with a cooler and more austere look. Beginning in 1915 he began concentrating on three themes: abstraction, cityscapes, and street portraits. For abstractions he produced many memorable photographs at his summer home in Connecticut by turning tables on their sides, rotating negatives ninety degrees, and taking shots of the corners, rims, and shadows of everyday household objects.

For the cityscapes and street portraits, Strand’s method was to avoid teaming city scenes and large crowds and to create a more intimate, even isolated, individual aesthetic. Strand said that he wanted “portraits of people…without their being conscious of being photographed…[and] within an environment which they themselves had chosen to be, or were in anyway.”

 

Books with Paul Strand available from Boreas Fine Art:

Strand, Paul.  The Mexican Portfolio.  New York: Da Capo Press.  1967.

 

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