Paul Strand

Paul Strand,, “Young Boy”, 1951, Gelatin Silver Print fromm the Series “Portfolio Three”, Detroit Institute of Arts

Paul Strand was born in New York in 1890. When he was 17 years old, he began taking photography courses, studying under famed photographer Lewis Hine. During his training, Strand also became acquainted with Alfred Stieglitz,  whose 291 Gallery in New York provided inspiration for Strand and other aspiring modernist photographers and artists.

A turning point in his career came in 1915 when Strand began to discover the intrinsic capabilities of the large-format camera, known as “straight photography.” His photographs moved from soft-focus scenes of modern New York that reflect the energy and movement of the city and its inhabitants to sharply focused expressions of objective reality. Strand’s images gain power from their integration of reality and abstraction within the composition.

n 1920 another shift occurred in Strand’s career. His social consciousness led him to explore the relationship between art and politics and to devote his career to progressive causes, turning to cinematography for a decade, from about 1920 to 1930.

In 1934 Strand helped found Frontier Films, a documentary film company dedicated to pro-labor causes. Strand remained an active photographer while working in film, but his subject matter changed. He concentrated on images of farmers and villagers in New England and Mexico, expressing nostalgia and admiration for a simpler life.

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