Paul Strand - Artist's portrait - Image via momaorg

Paul Strand/ Paul Strand

United States 1890 - 1976

Photography

Paul Strand
Paul Strand
Male
United States
1890

Defining the way fine art and documentary photography is comprehended and practiced today, Paul Strand was one of the most prominent and most influential photographers of the 20th century whose works went far beyond any expectations reaching a higher truth of reality. His straight photographic methods deprived of any tricks of the process of manipulation showed a sincere respect for the subject in front of his camera, making Strand one of the initial contributors to the modern art era. Pioneering new style in photography, he moved one step further, producing films that later marked him as an enemy of the United States.

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Paul Strand – Wall Street, 1915 – Image via en.wikipedia.org

From First Camera to 1916 Solo Exhibition

Strand was born in 1890 in New York. He got his first camera at the age of twelve and when he was seventeen, he started taking photography lessons from Lewis H. Nine at the Ethical Culture School. Within the classes, they used to visit famous 291 Gallery located on 5th Avenue where he faced with the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Gertrude Käsebier and painter Pablo Picasso. After graduation in 1909, he joined his father’s enamelware import business, accepting the fact that photography should be the hobby and not a way in which to make a living. Still, during his free time, he was very active in the Camera Club of New York and in 1911 finally decided to start his own commercial photography business working in a soft-focus style, experimenting with gum printing, like his contemporaries. By 1915, he began to use large format cameras and combining the elements of abstraction and reality he developed distinctive, already recognizable personal style. Highly influenced modern photography, painting, and sculpture, particularly by Stieglitz and Charles Sheeler, his lens was focused on architectural landscapes, portraits, and still life studies. Next year was marked by major publication in Camera Work and first solo exhibition at 291[1]. By the 1920’s Strand showed interest in social issues, questioning the relationship between the art and politics believing that art could have a positive impact on social thinking and raise awareness of people. He decided to devote his career to progressive causes and joined his colleague Berenice Abbot in the founding of Photo League, the group of New York photographers with the aim of raising awareness and social protest. During this period, he was mainly focused on moving images, spending the decade working in cinematography, helping the founding of the documentary film company Frontier Films.

Strand’s artistic development was influenced by exhibitions held at the 291 Gallery

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Paul Strand – The Lusettis in Luzzara, 1953 – Image via indenpendent.co.uk

Photographs and Motion Pictures From New York and Rest of the World

His first film, Manhatta (1921), also known as New York the Magnificent was a group project with Charles Sheeler. Living in a Mexico for three years, Strand photographed and worked on a film commissioned by the Mexican government named Redes, in the United States released as The Wave. The photographs he made there were so impressive that were included in the First Museum of Modern Art in NY Photography exhibition in 1937, followed by the publication of twenty hand-gravure reproductions of the images. While his cinematographic work was into the frames of the modern aesthetic, his still photography passed through the transformation toward more complex juxtapositioning instead of the earlier simplicity of minimal compositions. Strand’s non-profit organization Frontier Films soon became very productive making movies that express strong political views, such as the titles Native Land or The Plow that Broke the Plains. Completely devoted to the motion pictures, the artist still decided to return to full-time photography in 1943. Beginning from Vermont, during the next years, he traveled a lot, touring New England, Paris, Italy, Egypt, and Ghana. For the last three decades, he pursued “place portraits”, the projects conceived as books, intended for the larger purposes. Kwame Nkrumah, the first minister and president of Ghana invited Strand to document the country’s progress and his efforts to modernize the industry and economy[2]. Showing the present emerging from the past, the artist’s interest in the history of particular people and particular place managed to convey the unique portrait of the 20th century.

Both photograps and motion pictures make the featured work of Paul Strand

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Paul Strand – Market, Accra, Ghana, 1960 – Image via proof.nationalgeographic.com

Paul Strand in Europe

Considering his growing interest in leftist ideas, Strand soon became unwelcome in the circles of the conservative American society of the 1950’s. His Frontier Films was accused of being subversive and un-American and Strand decided to move to Europe, spending the rest of his life in France, publishing books in East Germany, prohibited from sales in the United States. His Native Land was presented at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia. Although he lived in Orgeval for 27 years, he never learned the language, but still achieved great success and made an impressive creative career. Paul Stand died in 1976, at the age of 85[3]. Better known to wider audience for his early abstractions, during the late period, the artist produced some of the most influential pieces in the form of six box portraits of place, such as Time in New England (1950), La France de Profil (1952), Un Paese (1955), Tir a’Mhurain / Outer Hebrides (1962), Living Egypt (1969), and Ghana: An African Portrait (1960). In 1967, he was awarded the David Octavius Hill Medal by the Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner in Mannheim, Germany. Before his death in 1976 he published two portfolios On My Doorstep and The Garden.

References:

  1. Oden, L. Paul Strand Biography, International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum [September 5, 2016]
  2. Harlan, B. (2014) Paul Strand’s Portraits of Modernity: 1960s Ghana, National Geographic [September 5, 2016]
  3. Anonymous. Paul Strand Photographer (American), The Art of Photography [September 5, 2016]

Featured image: Paul Strand – Artist’s portrait (detail) – Image via moma.org

YearExhibition titleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Paul Strand in Vermont: 1943 1946 Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VTSolo
2016El murmullo de los rostros. Paul Strand en México Museo Amparo, PueblaSolo
2016Fotografía documental en Estados Unidos. Años 30 Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM),ValenciaSolo
2016Pandora's Box : Jan Dibbets on Another Photography Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (MAM ARC), ParisGroup
2015Paul Strand Fundación MAPFRE, MadridSolo
2015Paul Strand, Fotografie Und Film Für Das 20. Jahrhundert Fotomuseum Winterthur,WinterthurSolo
2015Retratos. Colección Fundación MAPFRE de Fotografía Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico CityGroup
2015All About Color and Geometry: Selections from the Diana and Peter Jannetta Gift of Art Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PAGroup
2015An American Modernism New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2014Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PASolo
2014Paul Strand, Hazel Strand Aperture Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2014Paul Strand:The Mexican Portfolio The McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TXSolo
201418th Annual Summer Sale Alan Klotz Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2014Aperture Remix The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CAGroup
2014Private Collections Exposed Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel, CAGroup
2013Decisive Moments The Contemporary Museum Honolulu, Honolulu, HIGroup
2013At the Window: The Photographer's View The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2013The Itinerant Languages of Photography Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJGroup
2013Vues d´en haut Centre Pompidou Metz, MetzGroup
2012Paul Strand: The Mexican Portfolio Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, CASolo
2012A Fotogravura em Paul Strand e em Camera Work Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São PauloSolo
2012Borrowed Time Edward Thorp Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012New York: Stieglitz to Titarenko Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Faking It Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012Gaze The Changing Face of Portrait Photography Istanbul Modern, IstanbulGroup
2011Paul Strand El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA), El Paso, TXSolo
2011Paul Strand: The Mexican Portfolio Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FLSolo
2011Made in America 1900 1950. Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, ONGroup
2011Salon Style Atlas Gallery, LondonGroup
2011Kindred Spirits, Native American Influences on 20th Century Art Peter Blum Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010Paul Strand Bronx Museum of the Arts (BxMA), New York City, NYSolo
2010Paul Strand in Mexico Aperture Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2010Paul Strand in Mexico Florida International University, Miami, FLSolo
2010Paul Strand in Mexico Florida International University, Miami, FLSolo
2010Modernist Photography 1910 1950 MFA, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MAGroup
2010Humanos. Acciones, Historia Y Fotografía Centro de Arte Alcobendas (CAA), MadridGroup
2009Olhar direto: fotografias de Paul Strand Museu Lasar Segall, São PauloSolo
2009Paul Strand. Retrospectiva 1915 1976 Fundació Foto Colectania, BarcelonaSolo
2009In Focus: The Worker The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2009Icons of American Photographie Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburg, PAGroup
2009The Guardian and the Avant Garde: Seymour Lipton's Sentinel II in Context University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NCGroup
2008Street & Studio: an urban history of photography Tate Modern, LondonGroup
2008Chance Encounters The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DCGroup
2008Die Hände der Kunst MARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2008Being: A Selection of Photographic Portraits Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, MEGroup
2007Paul Strand, The Mexican Portfolio Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WASolo
2007Toward A Deeper Understanding Pace Macgill Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2007Paul Strand, Southwest Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WASolo
2007The Search to See II: Photographs from the Collection of Frederick B. Scheel The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2007The Other Side of Light: Shadows from the Photography Collection The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2006Paul Strand, Southwestern Landscapes Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2006Paul Strand, Southwest Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OHSolo
2006Paul Strand, vintage photographs Galerie Berinson, BerlinSolo
2006Photographies de Paul Strand : trois chemins parcourus Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, GivernySolo
2006Lola Alvarez Bravo & Her Circle Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc., New York City, NYGroup
2006busy going crazy. the Sylvio Perlstein collection La Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2006The Moon is Broken, A Collection of Photography and Poetry Williams College Museum of Art,Williamstown, MAGroup
2005Three Roads Taken, The Photographs of Paul Strand The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CASolo
2005Keeping Shadows: Photography from the Worcester Art Museum Phoenix Art Museum,Phoenix, AZGroup
2005Modernism in Black and White Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NHGroup
2005A Century of Curiosities: The Story of the Hamilton College Collection Christian A. Johnson Hall, Clinton, NYGroup
2005Leporello, Een reis door de collectie Stedelijk Museum CS, AmsterdamGroup
2004Italia. Doppie visioni Scuderie del Quirinale, RomeGroup
2004Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present Mori Art Museum,TokyoGroup
2004Defining Moments Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZGroup
2003Landscape, Faith, People: Mexican Photographs by Paul Strand Kresge Art Center, Michigan State University, Lansing, MISolo
2003Les choix dCB Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, ParisGroup
2003Mexican Suites Part 2: Photography in Mexico Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc., New York City, NYGroup
2003Debating American Modernism Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2002Paul Strand, Works 1917 1953 William Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2002performing buildings Moderna Museet, StockholmGroup
2002Vues d'architectures, Photographies XIX et XX Musee de Grenoble, GrenobleGroup
2002Seeing things Victoria & Albert Museum, V&A, LondonGroup
2001Paul Strand Tir a'Mhurain National Media Museum, BradfordSolo
2001Presence and Loss Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WAGroup
2001Paul Strand and David Lubbers: The Mexico Portfolios Kalamazoo Institute of Arts,Kalamazoo, MIGroup
2001Several Exceptionally Good Recently Acquired Pictures XIV Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2000Four 20th Century Masters In Mexico Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2000How you look at it Sprengel Museum Hannover, HannoverGroup
1999Fotografie in una collezione privata Museo Cantonale d´Arte Lugano, LuganoGroup
1999Chiaroscuro: highlights and shades of six photographers University of Maryland Art Gallery,College Park, MDGroup
1998Paul Strand Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, ViennaSolo
1998Paul Strand circa 1916 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYSolo
1998Paul Strand, Anton Bruehl, Marion Michelle: Modernist Mexican Vistas Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc., New York City, NYGroup
1996Paul Strand. El mundo a mi puerta. 1950 1976 Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía,MadridSolo
1996Paul Strand. Die Welt vor meiner Tür Kunsthaus Zürich, ZurichSolo
1996Alfred Stieglitz and Early Modern Photography MFA, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MAGroup
1994Paul Strand, Die Welt vor meiner Tür Museum Folkwang Essen, EssenSolo
1994Mexico through foreign eyes Galleria Carla Sozzani, MilanGroup
1994Highlights of the Alfred Stieglitz Center Collection of Photographs Philadelphia Museum of Art,Philadelphia, PAGroup
1992The Stieglitz circle Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
1992Pantheon der Photographie im XX Jahrhundert Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, BonnGroup
1992About Face: Photographic Portraits from the Permanent Collection, 1900 1991 ICP, International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1991Paul Strand Photographs The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
1991Paul Strand Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
1991Basel Art Fair Switzerland Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, GAGroup
1991Objectionable Beauty Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1990The Art of Paul Strand The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DCSolo
1988Paul Strand: Portfolios III and IV University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IASolo
1987The Machine Age in America, 1918 1941 The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GAGroup
1987The Machine Age in America, 1918 1941 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1986The Machine Age in America, 1918 1941 Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
1985Les vingt ans du Musée à travers sa collection Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal,Montreal, QCGroup
1984Paul Strand: 50 Photographs Hanes Art Gallery, Winston Salem, NCSolo
1984Paul Strand: The Range of Expression, 1914 1976 Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
1984Creation, Modern Art And Nature Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, ScotlandGroup
1983Photographs and Portfolios by Paul Strand The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
198319th & 20th Century Master ArtSpace, Virginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables (Miami), FLGroup
1983Phototypes Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
1982Paul Strand: The Mexican Portfolio Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TXSolo
1982Paul Strand Galerija Umjetnina Split, SplitSolo
1982Paul Strand Henie Onstad Art Centre, HovikoddenSolo
1982Paul Strand Photographic Gallery Hippolyte, HelsinkiSolo
1981Paul Strand Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1981American Photography in the Thirties The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, AlbertaGroup
1980Photographic Crossroads, The Photo League Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WIGroup
1980Photography of the Fifties: An American Perspective ICP, International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1980Looking for Picasso: Photographs of the Artist ICP, International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1980Amerika Fotografie 1920 1940. zwischen hollywood und harlem kestnergesellschaft,HannoverGroup
1979Paul Strand in Mexico Kunsthaus Zürich, ZurichSolo
1979Photographic Crossroads, The Photo League University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IAGroup
1978Photographes du XXe siècle : Stieglitz, Steichen et leurs successeurs Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QCGroup
1978Photographs of Mexico: Modotti, Strand, Weston The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DCGroup
1978Photographic Crossroads, The Photo League The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MNGroup
1977Paul Strand, Centre Pompidou Musée National d´Art Moderne, ParisSolo
1977Paul Strand UAMA, The University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZSolo
1977documenta 6 Documenta, KasselGroup
1977Bill Brandt, Paul Strand photographs from the collection NGV National Gallery of Victoria,Melbourne, VICGroup
1976Paul Strand: 1890 1976 MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo
1976Masters of the Camera: Stieglitz, Steichen and Their Successors ICP, International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1975Paul Strand: The Mexican Portfolio University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IASolo
1974Public Landscapes: An Exhibition of Photographs MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1973Paul Strand, Photographs 1915 1968 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYSolo
1972Photography by Paul Strand Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
1972Mexican Portfolio by Paul Strand Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MISolo
1970Photo Eye of the 20's MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1969The Mexican Portfolio Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TXSolo
1969Paul Strand’s Mexican Portfolio Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MISolo
1968Photography as Printmaking MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1967Photographs by Paul Strand: 1927 1954 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CASolo
1964The Photographer's Eye MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1963The Photographer and the American Landscape MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1960The Sense of Abstraction MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1951Abstraction in Photography MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1950Color Photography MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
194850 Photographs by 50 Photographers MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1946Photographs by Paul Strand San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CASolo
1945Paul Strand: Photographs 1915 1945 MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo
1943Action Photography MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1937Photography 1839 1937 MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1932Paul Strand: New Photographs An American Place, New York City, NYSolo
1931American photography Julien Levy Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1929Paul Strand: New Photographs The Intimate Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
1916Photographs by Paul Strand 291 Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
Paul Strand Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York City, NYSolo