Posts Tagged ‘Paul Strand Wall Street

03
Jul
16

Exhibition: ‘Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Exhibition dates: 19th March – 3rd July 2016

 

Last day for this exhibition from one of the masters of photography. Apologies to the gallery and the readers that I did not get the posting up earlier but I have just been so busy at work. At least we have a record of the exhibition online.

Some of the media images were in a really shocking state. I can’t believe that an artist of Paul Strand’s standing would ever have wanted his photographs distributed in such a state – for example, enlarge the unrestored Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, South Uist, Hebrides (1954, detail) below, and then look at the restored version above that I have digitally cleaned.

What can you say about Strand that has not already been said before? He is a seminal figure in the history of photography. His Wall Street, New York (1915, below) is still one of my favourite images of all time – for its light, foreboding, and insicisve comment on capitalism and the worker. Follow this by one of the first truly “modernist” images, and one that changed the course of photography (and what a difference a year, and an image makes), White Fence, Port Kent, New York (1916, below) and you set the scene for a stellar career. To have that natural perspicaciousness: a penetrating discernment – a clarity of vision or intellect which provides a deep understanding and insight – is an element of wisdom that cannot be taught. As an artist, you’ve either got it or you haven’t.

As is observed in the Wikipedia entry on perspicacity, “In 17th century Europe René Descartes devised systematic rules for clear thinking in his work Regulæ ad directionem ingenii (Rules for the direction of natural intelligence). In Descartes’ scheme, intelligence consisted of two faculties: perspicacity, which provided an understanding or intuition of distinct detail; and sagacity, which enabled reasoning about the details in order to make deductions. Rule 9 was De Perspicacitate Intuitionis (On the Perspicacity of Intuition). He summarised the rule as

Oportet ingenii aciem ad res minimas et maxime faciles totam convertere, atque in illis diutius immorari, donec assuescamus veritatem distincte et perspicue intueri.

We should totally focus the vision of the natural intelligence on the smallest and easiest things, and we should dwell on them for a long time, so long, until we have become accustomed to intuiting the truth distinctly and perspicuously.”

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Intuiting the truth distinctly and perspicuously… quick to pick out, from among the thousands of things he sees, those that are significant, and to synthesize observations. This is what Strand does so well. His photographs are honest, direct, without ego. They just are. They live and breathe the subject. How do you get that look, that presence such as in Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France (1951, below). That presence is repeated again and again – in rocks, tendrils, people, buildings, landscapes – and finally, in the last years of his life, in intimate, sensitive and complex images of his garden at Orgeval. God bless that we have great artists like Paul Strand.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the V&A for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

 

“For the first time in the UK in 40 years a major retrospective on the American photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976) opens at the V&A. The exhibition is the first of its kind since Strand’s death in 1976 and shows how the pioneering photographer defined the way fine art and documentary photography is understood and practiced today.

Part of a tour organised by Philadelphia Museum of Art, in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE and made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the V&A exhibition reveals Strand’s trailblazing experiments with abstract photography, screens what is widely thought of as the first avant-garde film and shows the full extent of his photographs made on his global travels beginning in New York in 1910 and ending in France in 1976. Newly acquired photographs from Strand’s only UK project – a 1954 study of the island of South Uist in the Scottish Hebrides – are also on show, alongside other works from the V&A’s own collection.

Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century encompasses over 200 objects from exquisite vintage photographic prints to films, books, notebooks, sketches and Strand’s own cameras to trace his career over sixty years. Arranged both chronologically and thematically, the exhibition broadens understanding of Strand as an international photographer and filmmaker with work spanning myriad geographic regions and social and political issues.

Martin Barnes, curator of the exhibition said: “The V&A was one of a handful of UK institutions to collect Paul Strand’s work during his lifetime and the Museum now houses the most extensive collection of his prints in the UK. Through important additional loans, the exhibition explores the life and career of Strand, but also challenges the popular perception of Strand as primarily a photographer of American places and people of the early 20th century.”

The exhibition begins in Strand’s native New York in the 1910s, exploring his early works of its financial district, railyards, wharves and factories. During this time he broke with the soft-focus and Impressionist-inspired ‘Pictorialist’ style of photography to produce among the first abstract pictures made with a camera. The influence of photographic contemporaries Alfred Stieglitz and Alvin Langdon Coburn as well European modern artists such as Braque and Picasso can be seen in Strand’s experiments in this period. On display are early masterpieces such as Wall Street which depicts the anonymity of individuals on their way to work set against the towering architectural geometry and implied economic forces of the modern city. Strand’s early experiments in abstraction, Abstraction, Porch Shadows and White Fence are also shown, alongside candid and anonymous street portraits, such as Blind Woman, made secretly using a camera with a decoy lens.

The exhibition explores Strand’s experiments with the moving image with the film Manhatta (1920 – 21). A collaboration with the painter and photographer Charles Sheeler, Manhatta was hailed as the first avant-garde film, and traces a day in the life of New York from sunrise to sunset punctuated by lines of Walt Whitman’s poetry. Strand’s embrace of the machine and human form is a key focus of the exhibition. In 1922, he bought an Akeley movie camera. The close-up studies he made of both his first wife Rebecca Salsbury and the Akeley during this time are shown alongside the camera itself. Extracts of Strand’s later, more politicised films, such as Redes (The Wave), made in cooperation with the Mexican government are featured, as well as the scarcely-shown documentary Native Land, a controversial film exposing the violations of America’s workforce.

Strand travelled extensively and the exhibition emphasises his international output from the 1930s to the late 1960s, during which time he collaborated with leading writers to publish a series of photobooks. As Strand’s career progressed, his work became increasingly politicised and focused on a type of social documentary alongside the desire to depict a shared humanity. The exhibition features Strand’s first photobook Time in New England (1950), alongside others including a homage to his adopted home France and his photographic hero Eugène Atget, La France de profil, which he made in collaboration with the French poet, Claude Roy. One of Strand’s most celebrated images, The Family, Luzzara, (The Lusetti’s) was taken in a modest agricultural village in Italy’s Po River valley for the photobook Un Paese, for which he collaborated with the Neo-Realist screen writer, Cesare Zavattini. On display, this hauntingly direct photograph depicts a strong matriarch flanked by her brood of five sons, all living with the aftermath of the Second World War.

From the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, Strand photographed in Egypt, Morocco and Ghana, all of which had gone through transformative political change. The exhibition shows Strand’s most compelling pictures from this period, including his tender portraits, complemented by street pictures showing public meetings and outdoor markets. The exhibition concludes with Strand’s final photographic series exploring his home and garden in Orgeval, France, where he lived with his third wife Hazel until his death in 1976. The images are an intimate counterpoint to Strand’s previous projects and offer a rare glimpse into his own domestic happiness.”

Press release from the V&A

 

 

Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler
Manhatta
1921
Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

 

Fred Zinnemann and Emilio Gómez Muriel (directors)
Paul Strand (photography)
Silvestre Revueltas (music)
Redes / The Wave
1936
Filmada en Alvarado, Veracruz (México)

 

 

Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz (directors)
Paul Strand (photography)
Native Land
1942
VOSE (Tierra Natal)

 

Paul Strand. 'Wall Street, New York' 1915

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Wall Street, New York
1915
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'White Fence, Port Kent, New York' 1916 (negative); 1945 (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
White Fence, Port Kent, New York
1916 (negative); 1945 (print)
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Blind Woman, New York' 1916

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Blind Woman, New York
1916
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Rebecca, New York' 1921

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Rebecca, New York
1921
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'New Mexico' 1930

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
New Mexico
1930
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

 

“Ahead of the first UK retrospective on Paul Strand in over 40 years, the V&A has acquired nine rare photographs from the pioneering 20th century photographer’s only UK-based series. Taken in 1954 in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, the photographs document the threat to traditional Gaelic life during the Cold War. The photographs will be unveiled for the first time together as part of the exhibition, Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century, opening 19 March.

Paul Strand defined the way fine art and documentary photography is understood and practiced today through his revolutionary experiments with the medium. The major acquisition, purchased for the V&A with the assistance of its Photographs Acquisition Group, comprise an intimate set of nine exquisite black and white vintage prints originally made for Strand’s photobook Tir A’Mhurain (‘Land of Bent Grass’).

A committed Marxist, Strand fled McCarthyism in the U.S. in 1950, pursued by the FBI. He settled in France, and carried out work there and in Italy before arriving on the Hebridean island of South Uist in 1954. Inspired by a BBC radio programme on Gaelic song, and news that the island would become home to a testing range for America’s new nuclear missile, Strand raced to capture the sights, sounds and textures of the place steeped in the threatened traditions of Gaelic language, fishing and agricultural life of pre-Industrial times. The photographs reveal Strand’s meticulous and methodical approach to photography, much like a studio photographer in the open air. They capture not only a pivotal moment in time, but also the end of a particular way of life for the islanders.

The acquisition encompasses four portraits of islanders staring directly at the camera, exuding strength and dignity. Each was photographed in their own environment, usually in or around their home, and is framed by weathered walls, doors or window frames – devices used often by Strand and borrowed from his 19th century photographic heroes David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. The V&A has also acquired five of Strand’s evocative landscapes, revealing the island’s reliance on the land and sea.

John MacLellan was eight years’ old when he was photographed by Strand with his two sisters for the picture Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, South Uist (below). Of the experience, he said: “I was very young when I met Strand, but I knew he must have been a serious photographer because of the quality of his camera. Me and my sisters were lined up and knew to look at the camera. Looking at the picture, my mother had combed our hair and dressed us in our smartest clothes. I’ve since read that Strand was motivated to take these photographs by the idea that things would change. I know so many people in the photographs, it’s wonderful to be able to look at them now and remember the place I used to call home.”

Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A said: “The photographs made by Strand in the Hebrides are for me a high point in his long and distinguished career. Strand worked slowly yet deliberately and with great poise in his pictures. By this time, his vision for his work had fully matured. His approach to sequencing and editing images in books such as ‘Tir A’Mhurain’ was informed by his collaborative experience making films for over twenty years. The Scottish book contains establishing panoramas of landscapes and the sea, a cast of characters with memorable faces, details of homes and workplaces and close-ups of the rocks, sands and grasses of the natural environment. The accompanying text by Basil Davidson is eloquent and informative about life on the islands, both in the past and at a pivotal time in the 1950s.The whole is a subtle sequence of meditative, revealing pictures and texts that avoid sentimentality and are yet full of empathy. These pictures make a surprising British link with this major American Modernist photographer and will have a satisfying legacy as part of the permanent collection at the V&A.”

Strand is an important figure in the history of photography not only because his career spanned much of the 20th century, but because he relentlessly trialled and pioneered myriad photographic approaches, subjects and technologies. Ironically it was his variety and failure to coin a signature style, and his belief in the integrity of the photographic print as an original artwork, that have seen him increasingly overlooked in the 40 years since his death. The V&A’s exhibition seeks to redress the balance, covering all aspects of Strand’s long career, from his trailblazing experiments in abstraction and dynamic views of New York in the 1910s to his final intimate pictures of his home and garden in France made during the 1970s.”

Text from the V&A

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis)' 1953 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis)
1953 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France' 1951 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France
1951 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954 (detail)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, South Uist, Hebrides (detail)
1954
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Angus Peter MacIntyre, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Angus Peter MacIntyre, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Angus Peter MacIntyre, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954 (detail)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Angus Peter MacIntyre, South Uist, Hebrides (detail)
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Katie Margaret Mackenzie, Benbecula, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Katie Margaret Mackenzie, Benbecula, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Katie Margaret Mackenzie, Benbecula, Hebrides' 1954 (detail)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Katie Margaret Mackenzie, Benbecula, Hebrides (detail)
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Rock, Loch Eynort, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Rock, Loch Eynort, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, Londonn
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Tendrils and Sand, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Tendrils and Sand, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Sea Rocks and Sea, The Atlantic, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Sea Rocks and Sea, The Atlantic, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'The Road, South Lochboisdale, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
The Road, South Lochboisdale, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Trawler, South Uist, Hebrides' 1954

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Trawler, South Uist, Hebrides
1954
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Driveway, Orgeval' 1957

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Driveway, Orgeval
1957
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) 'Couple, Rucăr, Romania' 1967

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 – 1976)
Couple, Rucăr, Romania
1967
© Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation

 

Martine Franck. 'Paul Strand Photographing the Orgeval Garden' 1974

 

Martine Franck
Paul Strand Photographing the Orgeval Garden
1974
© Martine Franck / Magnum Photos

 

From my mentor:

“Great camera – very great photographer.

He is making an image – his lower hand is about to go to the shutter button – the lens doesn’t have to be a camera lens, it could be an enlarger lens = note how the lens is tilted slightly forward to extend the depth of field… He has dressed up to take photos!!”

After I questioned holding a camera like this to take a photograph without using a tripod:

“Strand may not be making a picture – he may be just pretending. But he might be shooting @ f4. He might be showing off!!”

 

 

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26
Dec
14

Exhibition: ‘Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 21st October 2014 – 4th January 2015

 

Seeing clearly

What can you say about one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium, a man with a social conscience, a man who’s fame “rests on his extraordinary artistic talent as well as his belief in the transformative power of the medium in which he chose to work.”

From a personal perspective, in my first year at university learning the history of the medium in the early 1990s, the image White Fence, Port Kent, New York (1916, below) was proposed as the first truly modernist photograph. I remember seeing this image for the first time, placing myself in that time (the First World War) and trying to understand what a shock that photograph must have been to the world of Pictorialism. Even now, the strength of that white picket fence is electrifying in its frontality and geometric solidity. In this image, “Strand deliberately destroyed perspective to build a powerful composition from tonal planes and rhythmic pattern.”1 A year earlier Strand had produced what is one of my favourite photographs of all time, a modernist image – Wall Street, New York (1915, below), with the dark maw of industry ready to swallow the rushing workers framed in streaming sunlight. We cannot underestimate the impact that Strand’s revolutionary photographs had on the history of photography.

You only have to look at the images. Look at the tonality and intense stare in Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France (1951, below), so haunting and beautiful. Observe the ensemble of figures so tightly choreographed in The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis) (1953, below) or the darkness and weight of the cheese in Parmesan, Luzzara (1953, below) – an image I had never seen before – as it presses into the upturned hand. Magnificent. What seems so difficult to others and what is difficult in reality, is expressed simply and eloquently by Strand, whether it be portraits of tribal elders, market squares or oil refineries. That is the mark of a master craftsman, when the difficult appears simple and insightful at one and the same time. I vividly recall seeing a folio from The garden series (1957-67, printed in the year of his death 1976) – still lifes of his garden in Orgeval, outside Paris – at the National Gallery of Victoria and being awestruck by their tonality, their beauty, quietness and lyricism. No ego here… just a reflection of life on earth and “the beauty of myriad textures.” Several of these photographs are at the bottom of the posting.

An aphorism that I was taught when first starting out as a photographer was that Strand said it took ten years to become a photographer. Ten years of study to understand your equipment, your medium and what you are trying to say yourself as an artist – and to get rid of ego in the work, to let the work just speak for itself. Whether he actually said this I am not sure, but from my experience I would say that it is about right. Strand starting studying photography at the Ethical Culture School in 1907 under the tutelage of documentary photographer Lewis Hine and his first important images were produced in 1915. The timeline is there. For Strand, “the camera was a machine – a modern machine,” says curator of the exhibition Peter Barberie. “He was preoccupied with the question of how modern art – whether it’s photography or not – could contain all of the humanity that you see in the western artistic traditions.” A big ask but a great artist to do it.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Who can say what amalgam of memory, dreams, study, pain and discipline brought Paul Strand to photograph Mr. Bennett and to record him so perfectly? The picture is almost as unaccountable as the fact of Mr. Bennett, we are left with our little cosmologies and the certainty that we will never fully know. But we continue to speculate, as with all great art, because the picture is clearer than life and this is consoling.”

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Robert Adams, Why People Photograph

 

“Treating the human condition in the modern urban context, Strand’s photographs are a subversive alternative to the studio portrait of glamour and power. A new kind of portrait akin to a social terrain, they are, as Sanford Schwartz put it, “cityscapes that have faces for subjects.””

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Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

“The portrait of a person is one of the most difficult things to do, because in order to do it it means that you must almost bring the presence of that person photographed to other people in such a way that they don’t have to know that person personally in any way, but they are still confronted with a human being that they won’t forget. The images of that person that they will never forget. That’s a portrait.”

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Paul Strand

 

 

Paul Strand. 'Wall Street, New York' 1915 (negative); 1915 (print)

 

Paul Strand
Wall Street, New York
1915 (negative); 1915 (print)
Platinum print
9 3/4 × 12 11/16 inches (24.8 × 32.2 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand’s 1915 photograph of Wall Street workers passing in front of the monolithic Morgan Trust Company can be seen as the quintessential representation of the uneasy relationship between early twentieth-century Americans and their new cities. Here the people are seen not as individuals but as abstract silhouettes trailing long shadows down the chasms of commerce. The intuitive empathy that Strand demonstrates for these workers of New York’s financial district would be evident throughout the wide and varied career of this seminal American photographer and filmmaker, who increasingly became involved with the hardships of working people around the world. In this and his other early photographs of New York, Strand helped set a trend toward pure photography of subject and away from the pictorialist” imitation of painting.Wall Street is one of only two known vintage platinum prints of this image and one of the treasures of some five hundred photographs in the Museum’s Paul Strand Retrospective Collection. Martha Chahroudi, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 230.

 

Paul Strand. 'White Fence, Port Kent, New York' 1916 (negative); 1945 (print)

 

Paul Strand
White Fence, Port Kent, New York
1916 (negative); 1945 (print)
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 12 13/16 inches (24.5 × 32.5 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

Manhatta (1921) | Paul Strand – Charles Sheeler

 

Paul Strand. 'Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico' 1931

 

Paul Strand
Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
1931 (negative); 1931 (print)
Platinum print
5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (15 x 11.7 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2013
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Women of Santa Ana, Lake Pátzcuaro, Mexico' 1933

 

Paul Strand
Women of Santa Ana, Lake Pátzcuaro, Mexico
1933
Platinum print
4 11/16 × 5 7/8 inches (11.9 × 14.9 cm)
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with Museum funds, 2010
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

Redes / The Wave (1936)

 

Paul Strand. 'Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont' 1944

 

Paul Strand
Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont
1944
From Portfolio Three. 1944
Gelatin silver print
7 1/4 × 9 3/16 inches (18.4 × 23.3 cm)
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with Museum funds, 2010
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. "Never Despair" 1963-64

 

Paul Strand
“Never Despair”
1963-64
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4 cm)
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
Gift of Lynne and Harold Honickman
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Chief and Elders, Nayagnia, Ghana' 1963-64

 

Paul Strand
Chief and Elders, Nayagnia, Ghana
1963-64
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

“The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting the first major retrospective in nearly fifty years to be devoted to Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976), one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium. It explores the remarkable evolution of Strand’s work spanning six decades, from the breakthrough moment when he brought his art to the brink of abstraction to his broader vision of the place of photography in the modern world. This exhibition examines every aspect of Strand’s work, from his early efforts to establish photography as a major independent art form and his embrace of filmmaking as a powerful medium capable of broad public impact to his masterful extended portraits of people and places that would often take compelling shape in the form of printed books. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography celebrates the recent acquisition of more than 3,000 prints from the Paul Strand Archive, which has made the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world’s largest and most comprehensive repository of Strand’s work.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director, stated: “Strand’s achievement was remarkable. The distinctive place he holds in the history of modern photography rests on his extraordinary artistic talent as well as his belief in the transformative power of the medium in which he chose to work. From his early experiments with street photography in New York to his sensitive portrayal of daily life in New England, Italy, and Ghana, Strand came to believe that the most enduring function of photography and his work as an artist was to reveal the essential nature of the human experience in a changing world. He was also a master craftsman, a rare and exacting maker of pictures. We are delighted to be able to present in this exhibition a selection of works drawn almost exclusively from the Museum’s collection, and to share these with audiences in the United States and abroad. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography will introduce a new generation of visitors to a great modern artist.”

Paul Strand’s career spanned a period of revolutionary change both in the arts and in the wider world. Always motivated by a strong sense of social purpose, he came to believe that depicting the human struggle, both economic and political, was central to his responsibility as an artist. The exhibition begins with his rapid mastery of the prevailing Pictorialist style of the 1910s, reflected in serene landscapes such as The River Neckar, Germany (1911). On view also are his innovative photographs of 1915-17 in which he explored new subject matter in the urban landscape of New York and innovative aesthetic ideas in works such as Abstraction, Porch Shadows, Twin Lakes, Connecticut (1916). These new directions in Strand’s photography demonstrated his growing interest both in contemporary painting – especially Cubism and the work of the American artists championed by Alfred Stieglitz – and in discovering for photography a unique means of expressing modernity. Strand’s work of this period includes candid, disarming portraits of people observed on the street – the first of their type – such as Blind Woman, New York (1916), and Wall Street, New York (1915), an arrangement of tiny figures passing before the enormous darkened windows of the Morgan Trust Company Building, which illustrates Strand’s fascination with the pace of life and changing scale of the modern city.

During the 1920s – a period often called “the Machine Age” – Strand became transfixed by the camera’s capacity to record mesmerizing mechanical detail. At this time his ideas about the nature of portraiture began to expand significantly. These new and varied concerns can be seen in the sensuous beauty of close-up images of his wife, Rebecca Salsbury Strand, to cool, probing studies of his new motion picture camera, such as Akeley Camera with Butterfly Nut, New York (1922-23). His ideas about portraiture also extended to his growing preoccupation with photographic series devoted to places beyond New York, such as the southwest and Maine, where he would make seemingly ordinary subjects appear strikingly new. The exhibition looks at Strand’s widening engagement with his fellow artists of the Stieglitz circle, placing his works alongside a group of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and John Marin, as well as photographs by Stieglitz, who played an important role in launching Strand’s career. These juxtapositions reveal the rich interaction between Strand and his friends and peers during this time.

Over the next several decades Strand traveled widely, seeking always to establish a broader role for photography. The exhibition conveys his growing interest in the medium’s unique ability to record the passage of time and the specific qualities of place, as seen in Elizabethtown, New Mexico (1930), one of many photographs he made of abandoned buildings. It shows Strand returning to a core motif – the portraiture of anonymous subjects – during the time when he lived in Mexico, from 1932 to 1934. This period abroad had a profound influence on him, deepening his engagement with the politics of the left. Many of the works he created at this time, whether depicting individuals, groups of people, or even religious icons, show in their exceptional compositions a deep empathy. This can also be seen in his series devoted to Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula from the same decade.

By the 1940s, books would become Strand’s preferred form of presentation for his work, reflecting a synthesis of his aims both as a photographer and filmmaker, and offering him the opportunity to create multifaceted portraits of modern life. In his photographs of New England, Strand drew upon cultural history, conveying a sense of past and present in order to suggest an ongoing struggle for democracy and individual freedom. Images of public buildings, such as Town Hall, New Hampshire (1946), and portraits of people he met, including Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont (1943), were reproduced in Time in New England. This book was published in 1950, the year Strand moved to France in response to a growing anti-Communist sentiment in the U.S., and reflected his political consciousness. Strand described New England as “a battleground where intolerance and tolerance faced each other over religious minorities, over trials for witchcraft, over the abolitionists … It was this concept of New England that led me to try to find … images of nature and architecture and faces of people that were either part of or related in feeling to its great tradition.”

The exhibition also highlights his project in Luzzara, Italy (1953), where he focused his attention on the everyday realities of a northern village recovering from the miseries of war and fascism. This series is centered on images of townspeople, as seen in The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis) (1953), and fulfills his long-held ambition to create a major work of art about a single community. Strand’s photographs of Luzzara were published in Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village (1955).

In 1963, Strand was invited to Ghana at the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah, its first president following the end of British rule. Fascinated by Ghana’s democracy during these years, Strand was excited to photograph a place undergoing rapid political change and modernization. He saw modernity in the efforts of a newly independent nation to chart its future unfolding simultaneously alongside traditional aspects of Ghanaian culture. Portraiture was central to the project, as seen in Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana (1964), in which a young schoolgirl balances books on her head. The project led to the publication of Ghana: An African Portrait (1976).

In Strand’s later years, he would increasingly turn his attention close to his home in Orgeval, outside Paris, often addressing the countless discoveries he could make within his own garden. There he produced a remarkable series of still lifes. These were at times reflective of earlier work, but also forward-looking in their exceptional compositions that depict the beauty of myriad textures, free-flowing movement, and evoke a quiet lyricism.

In addition to Strand’s still photography, the exhibition features three of his most significant films. Manhatta (1921), his first film and an important collaboration with painter and photographer Charles Sheeler, will be shown in full. This brief non-narrative “scenic” is considered the first American avant-garde film. It portrays the vibrant energy of New York City, juxtaposing the human drama on the street with abstracted bird’s-eye perspectives taken from high buildings and scenes of the ferry and harbor, all punctuated by poetry from Walt Whitman. Two of the films are seen in excerpts. Redes (1936), Strand’s second film, reflects the artist’s growing social awareness during his time in Mexico. Released as The Wave in the U.S., the film is a fictional account of a fishing village struggling to overcome the exploitation of a corrupt boss. Native Land (1942) is Strand’s most ambitious film. Co-directed with Leo Hurwitz and narrated by Paul Robeson, it was created after his return to New York when Strand became a founder of Frontier Films and oversaw the production of leftist documentaries. Ahead of its time in its blending of fictional scenes and documentary footage, Native Land focuses on union-busting in the 1930s from Pennsylvania to the Deep South. When its release coincided with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was criticized as out-of-step with the nation, leading Strand to return exclusively to still photography.

Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography is curated by Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with the assistance of Amanda N. Bock, Project Assistant Curator of Photographs. Barberie said, “Whether he was printing in platinum, palladium, gelatin-silver, making films, or preparing books, Strand was ultimately more than a photographer. He was a great modern artist whose eloquent voice addressed the widest possible audience, and this voice continues to resonate today.

 

Paul Strand. 'Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France' 1951 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)

 

Paul Strand
Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France
1951 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Tom Callan and Martin McNamara, 2012
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis)' 1953 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)

 

Paul Strand
The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis)
1953 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)
Gelatin silver print
11 7/16 x 14 9/16 inches (29 x 37 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Hauslohner, 1972
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana' 1964

 

Paul Strand
Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana
1964 (negative); 1964 (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with The Henry McIlhenny Fund and other Museum funds, 2012
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Market, Accra, Ghana' 1963-64

 

Paul Strand
Market, Accra, Ghana
1963-64
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection
Partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Market Day, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand
Market Day, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.7 x 15 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Zoë and Dean Pappas
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Oil Refinery, Tema, Ghana' 1963-64

 

Paul Strand
Oil Refinery, Tema, Ghana
1963-64
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Lynne and Harold Honickman
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Place to meet, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand
Place to meet, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 x 15 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Zoë and Dean Pappas
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Parmesan, Luzzara
' 1953

 

 

Paul Strand
Parmesan, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 x 15 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Andrea M. Baldeck, MD, and William M. Hollis Jr.,
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'The Farm, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand
The Farm, Luzzara

1953
Gelatin silver print
4 11/16 × 5 7/8 in. (11.9 × 15 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Worker at the Co-op, Luzzara
' 1953

 

Paul Strand
Worker at the Co-op, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 × 14.9 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 - 1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'The Couple, Luzzara' 
1953

 

Paul Strand
The Couple, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 × 14.9 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Ralph Citino and Lawrence Taylor
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

About Paul Strand

Born in New York City, Strand first studied with the social documentary photographer Lewis Hine at New York’s Ethical Culture School from 1907-09, and subsequently became close to the pioneering photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Strand fused these powerful influences and explored the modernist possibilities of the camera more fully than any other photographer before 1920. In the 1920s, Strand tested the camera’s potential to exceed human vision, making intimate, detailed portraits, and recording the nuances of machine and natural forms. He also created portraits, landscapes, and architectural studies on various travels to the Southwest, Canada, and Mexico. The groups of pictures of these regions, in tandem with his documentary work as a filmmaker in the 1930s, convinced Strand that the medium’s great purpose lay in creating broad and richly detailed photographic records of specific places and communities. For the rest of his career he pursued such projects in New England, France, Italy, the Hebrides, Morocco, Romania, Ghana, and other locales, producing numerous celebrated books. Together, these later series form one of the great photographic statements about modern experience. The last major retrospective dedicated to Strand was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1971.

 

The Paul Strand Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

In 2010, the Philadelphia Museum of Art began to acquire the core collection of photographs by Paul Strand. Through the generosity of philanthropists Lynne and Harold Honickman, Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman, and H.F. “Gerry” and Marguerite Lenfest, the Museum received as partial and promised gifts from The Paul Strand Archive at the Aperture Foundation, as well as master prints from Strand’s negatives by the artist Richard Benson.

The Paul Strand Collection permits the study of Strand’s career with prints from the majority of his negatives, including variants and croppings of individual images. Together with other photographs already owned by the Museum, the acquisition makes the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world’s most comprehensive repository for the study of his work.

 

Catalogue

The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial scholarly catalogue, co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University press in collaboration with MAPFRE. The accompanying publication is supported by Lynne and Harold Honickman and The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Press release from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Paul Strand. 'Blind Woman, New York' 1916 (negative); 1945 (print)

 

Paul Strand
Blind Woman, New York
1916 (negative); 1945 (print)
Gelatin silver print
12 3/4 × 9 3/4 inches (32.4 × 24.8 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Abstraction, Bowls, Twin Lakes, Connecticut' 1916

 

Paul Strand
Abstraction, Bowls, Twin Lakes, Connecticut
1916
Gelatin silver print
13 1/16 × 9 5/8 inches (33.1 × 24.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Abstraction, Porch Shadows' 1916

 

Paul Strand
Abstraction, Porch Shadows, Twin Lakes, Connecticut
1916 (negative); 1950s (print)
Gelatin silver print
12 15/16 × 8 15/16 inches (32.9 × 22.7 cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Elizabethtown, New Mexico' 1930

 

Paul Strand
Elizabethtown, New Mexico
1930 (negative); 1930 (print)
Platinum print
9 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches (24.4 x 19.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Farmworker, Luzzara, Italy' 1953

 

Paul Strand
Farmworker, Luzzara, Italy
1953 (negative); early to mid- 1980s (print)
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (14.9 x 11.8 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Asenah Wara, Leader of the Women’s Party, Wa, Ghana' 1964

 

Paul Strand
Asenah Wara, Leader of the Women’s Party, Wa, Ghana
1964
Gelatin silver print
12 1/8 x 9 7/8 inches (30.8 x 25.1 cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Mary Hammond, Winneba, Ghana' 1963

 

Paul Strand
Mary Hammond, Winneba, Ghana
1963 (negative); 1964 (print)
9 1/4 × 7 1/4 inches (23.5 × 18.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 2012

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Cobweb in Rain, Georgetown, Maine' 1927

 

Paul Strand
Cobweb in Rain, Georgetown, Maine
1927 (negative); 1927 (print)
Gelatin silver print
9 11/16 x 7 13/16 inches (24.6 x 19.8 cm),
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition
The Paul Strand Collection, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico' 1931

 

Paul Strand
Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
1931 (negative); 1931 (print)
Platinum print
5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (15 x 11.7 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2013
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Toward the Sugar House, Vermont' 1944

 

Paul Strand
Toward the Sugar House, Vermont
1944 (negative); 1944 (print)
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2010
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Jungle, Ashanti Region, Ghana' 1964

 

Paul Strand
Jungle, Ashanti Region, Ghana
1964
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 11/16 inches (24.4 × 19.6 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 2012

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Woman and Boy, Tenancingo, Mexico' 1933

 

Paul Strand
Woman and Boy, Tenancingo, Mexico
1933 (negative); c. 1940-1945 (print)
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 inches (15 × 11.8 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Rebecca, New York' 1921

 

Paul Strand 
Rebecca, New York
1921 (negative); 1921 (print)
Platinum print
9 1/2 x 7 5/8 inches (24.1 x 19.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Mr. Bolster, Weston, Vermont' 1943

 

Paul Strand
Mr. Bolster, Weston, Vermont
1943 (negative); 1943 (print)
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 inches (14.9 × 11.7 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Fern, Georgetown, Maine' 1928

 

Paul Strand
Fern, Georgetown, Maine
1928 (negative); 1940s (print)
Platinum print
9 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches (24.4 x 19.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2014
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Town Hall, New Hampshire' 1946

 

Paul Strand
Town Hall, New Hampshire
1946
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, gift of Lynne and Harold Honickman, 2013
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 Paul Strand. 'Cobbler, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand
Cobbler, Luzzara
1953 (negative); 1953 (print)
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 inches (15 × 11.8 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, gift of Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman, 2012
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Young Man, Luzzaro (Ivo Lusetti)' 1953

 

Paul Strand
Young Man, Luzzaro (Ivo Lusetti)
1953
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 in. (15 × 11.8 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 -1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Virgin, San Felipe, Oaxaca, Mexico' 1933

 

Paul Strand
Virgin, San Felipe, Oaxaca, Mexico
1933
Platinum print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.3 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Bachelor Buttons, Orgeval' early 1960s

 

Paul Strand
Bachelor Buttons, Orgeval
early 1960s
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Cabbages and Pinks' 1957-58

 

Paul Strand
Cabbages and Pinks, Orgeval
1957-58
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Hoar Frosted Vines, Orgeval' 1969

 

Paul Strand
Hoar Frosted Vines, Orgeval
1969 (negative); 1969 or early 1970s (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 13/16 × 7 13/16 inches (19.8 × 19.8 cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

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Philadelphia, PA 19130

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28
Dec
13

Exhibition: ‘At the Window: The Photographer’s View’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 1st October 1, 2013 – 5th January 2014

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Another fascinating exhibition from the J. Paul Getty Museum that features classic photographs and some that I have never seen before. In my opinion, the two most famous photographs of windows have to be Minor White’s rhapsodic Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester (1958, below) and Paul Strand’s Wall Street (1915, below, originally known as Pedestrians raked by morning light in a canyon of commerce) which, strangely, is not included in the exhibition. I can’t understand this omission as this is the seminal image of windows in the history of photography.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the J. Paul Getty Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Paul Strand. 'Wall Street' 1915

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Paul Strand
Wall Street
1915

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“In this photo, taken by morning light 1915, the recently built J.P. Morgan Co. building appears sinister and foreboding and dwarfs (perhaps consumes even) the humanity of suited men and women, their long shadows dragging behind them, walked alongside its facade.

Paul Strand studied under Lewis Hine and Alfred Steiglitz. Although he set up in New York as a portriat photgrapher, Strand often visited Stieglitz’s gallery to see the new European painting which it exhibited. In 1914-15, under the influence of this new form of art, Strand turned from soft-focus pictoralism towards abstraction. It was in this spirit that the above photo was taken, originally named, “Pedestrians raked by morning light in a canyon of commerce”. Strand did not intended to show Wall Street in a bad light, he admitted. However, as the Great Depression happened (criticism was squarely towards Wall Street back then as it is today) and Strand turned more communist, he later spoke of “sinister windows” and “blind shapes” inherent in the above picture.

The photo, now simply titled “Wall Street”, was one of six Paul Strand pictures Stieglitz published in Camera Work. In three of the six pictures, humanity strides out from abstract ideas, and each figure was a study in itself – an irregular item complimented by modular formats that surround it. Another set of eleven Strand photos were published in the magazine’s final issue in 1917, and those pictures, overwhelmingly endorsed by Stieglitz as ‘brutally direct’ made Strand’s reputation.”

Text from the Iconic Photos blog

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Robert Frank (American, born Switzerland, 1924) 'Trolley - New Orleans' 1955

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Robert Frank (American, born Switzerland, 1924)
Trolley – New Orleans
1955
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.9 x 34 cm (9 x 13 3/8 in.)
Trish and Jan de Bont

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Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985) 'Girl at Gee's Bend' 1937

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Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985)
Girl at Gee’s Bend
1937
Silver gelatin print
Image: 40 x 49.7 cm (15 3/4 x 19 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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Edmund Collein (German, 1906-1992) '[Four Women Looking Through Window]' about 1928

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Edmund Collein (German, 1906-1992)
[Four Women Looking Through Window]
about 1928
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8.2 x 11.1 cm (3 1/4 x 4 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ursula Kirsten-Collein, Berlin

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Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) 'Wall Street Windows' about 1929

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Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Wall Street Windows
about 1929
Gelatin silver print
Image: 29.8 x 19.2 cm (11 3/4 x 7 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800-1877) '[The Milliner's Window]' before January 1844

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William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800-1877)
[The Milliner’s Window]
before January 1844
Salted paper print from a Calotype negative
Image: 14.3 x 19.5 cm (5 5/8 x 7 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976) 'Barn Window and Ice, East Jamaica, Vermont' 1943

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Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Barn Window and Ice, East Jamaica, Vermont
1943
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 19.4 x 24.3 cm (7 5/8 x 9 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Aperture Foundation

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Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Rain Drops' 1953

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Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Rain Drops
1953
Gelatin silver print
Image: 20.2 x 25 cm (7 15/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Christian K. Keesee
© The Brett Weston Archive

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Sebastião Salgado (Brazilian, born 1944) 'Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam' Negative 1995; print 2009

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Sebastião Salgado (Brazilian, born 1944)
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Negative 1995; print 2009
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 x 51.4 cm (13 1/2 x 20 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Sebastião Salgado

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“In many respects, the window was where photography began. As early as 1826, the sill of an upstairs window in the home of the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce served as a platform for his photographic experiments. His View from the Window at Le Gras is today considered to be the first photograph. Since then, the window motif in photographs has functioned formally as a framing device and conceptually as a tool for artistic expression. It is also tied metaphorically to the camera itself which is, at its most rudimentary, a “room” (the word camera means “chamber”) and its lens a “window” through which images are projected and fixed. The photographs in At the Window: A Photographer’s View, on view October 1, 2013 – January 5, 2014 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, explore varying aspects of the window as frame or mirror – formally or metaphorically – for photographic vision.

“The Getty Museum’s extensive collection allows us to explore themes and subjects within the history of photography that highlight not only the most famous masters and iconic images they produced, but also less obvious subjects, methods and practitioners of the medium whose contributions have not yet been fully acknowledged. At the Window is one such an exhibition, and holds in store many surprises, even for those who know the field well,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The exhibition also allows us to celebrate a substantial body of work that was recently added to the collection with funds provided by the Museum’s Photographs Council, whose mission it is to help us support the growth of the collection, and a number of highly important loans from private collections.”

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Shop Windows and Architecture

Featured in the exhibition is an exceedingly rare early photograph, William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Milliner’s Window (before January 1844) which depicts not an actual window but a carefully constructed one: shelves were placed outdoors and propped in front of black cloth, while various ladies’ hats were arranged to simulate the look of a shop display. Throughout the history of photography, actual shop fronts have been a popular subject and reflections in their windows a source for unexpected juxtapositions. This motif is well represented in the exhibition with photographs by William Eggleston, Eugène Atget, and Walker Evans.

Photographers have also taken an interest in the distinctive formal arrangements made possible by the architectural facades found in a cityscape. André Kertész’s Rue Vavin, Paris (1925), a view from his apartment window, is one of the first photographs he took upon arriving in Paris from Budapest. Photographers like Alfred Stieglitz carefully framed their views of urban exteriors, using the window as a unifying device within the composition.

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The Window as Social Documentary

While windows provide an opportunity to observe life beyond a single room, the camera’s lens opens a window to the world at large. Arthur Rothstein believed in photography’s ability to enact social change – his Girl at Gee’s Bend (1937) features a young girl framed in the window of her log-and-earth home in Alabama, highlighting the schism between magazine images and the actual lives of most Americans at the time. Similarly, Robert Frank’s Trolley – New Orleans (1955) frames racial segregation through windows in a trolley, while Sebastião Salgado’s Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (negative 1995; print 2009) uses the barely separated windows of a housing structure to evoke the cramped quarters and dire economic situation of its inhabitants.

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The Window as a Conceptual Tool

Artists have used the window in other novel ways, whether to create an enigmatic mood or suggest a suspenseful scene. In Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled (2002) from the series Twilight, the image of a woman standing in a room and turned toward a window creates a suspended, unsettling moment of anticipation that is never resolved. In her Stranger series (2000), Shizuka Yokomizo actively engages subjects by sending letters to randomly selected apartment residents, asking them to stand in front of a window at a particular date and time in order to be photographed. Uta Barth’s diptych …and of time (2000), where the path of a window’s light and shadow is followed across the wall of the artist’s living room, illustrates something the artist phrased as “ambient vision.”

“The window has been a recurrent and powerful theme for photographers from the beginning of the medium,” explains Karen Hellman, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “In a collection such as the Getty’s that is particularly rich in work by important photographers from the beginnings of the medium to the present day, the motif provides a unique way to travel through the history of photography.”

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The Window in Photographs (Getty Publications, $24.95, hardcover) investigates the recurrence of windows both as a figurative and literal theme throughout the history of photography. From the very vocabulary we use to describe cameras and photographic processes to the subjects of world-renowned photographers, windows have long held powerful sway over artists working in the medium. When documented on film, windows call into question issues of representation, the malleability of perception, and the viewer’s experience of the photograph itself, and the window’s evocative power is often rooted in the interplay between positive and negative, darkness and light, and inside and out.

Yet despite the ubiquity of windows in photography, this subject has been rarely addressed head on in a single exhibition or publication. From the birth of the Daguerreotype to the development of digital imagery, this volume presents a full account of the motif of the window as a symbol of photographic vision. Its eighty featured color plates, all drawn from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection, are arranged thematically rather than chronologically, allowing the window’s many uses in photography to be highlighted and explored stylistically. Including images from all-star contributors such as Uta Barth, Gregory Crewdson, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Minor White, The Window in Photographs is a remarkable examination of a theme that has inspired photographers for over a century. This book is published to coincide with the exhibition At the Window: The Photographer’s View at the J. Paul Getty Museum from October 1, 2013 to January 5, 2014.”

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

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Minor White. 'Windowsill daydreaming' 1958

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Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester
Negative July 1958; print 1960
Gelatin silver print, selenium toned
Image: 28.6 x 22.2 cm (11 1/4 x 8 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
Purchased in part with funds provided by the Greenberg Foundation
© Trustees of Princeton University, Minor White Archive

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Charles Swedlund (American, born 1935) 'Buffalo, NY' about 1970

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Charles Swedlund (American, born 1935)
Buffalo, NY
about 1970
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.7 x 15.9 cm (7 3/8 x 6 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Purchased in part with funds provided by an anonymous donor in memory of James N. Wood
© Charles Swedlund

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Walker Evans. 'Penny Picture Display, Savannah' 1936

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Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Penny Picture Display, Savannah / Photographer’s Window Display, Birmingham, Alabama / Studio Portraits, Birmingham, Alabama
1936
Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.6 x 19.9 cm (10 1/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Petit Bacchus, 61, rue St. Louis en l'Ile' (The Little Bacchus Café, rue St. Louis en l'Ile) 1901-1902

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Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Petit Bacchus, 61, rue St. Louis en l’Ile (The Little Bacchus Café, rue St. Louis en l’Ile)
1901-1902
Albumen silver print
Image: 22.1 x 17.8 cm (8 11/16 x 7 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) '[From My Window at the Shelton, North]' 1931

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Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
[From My Window at the Shelton, North]
1931
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 24.3 x 19.1 cm (9 9/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

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Yuki Onodera (Japanese, born 1962) 'Look Out the Window, No. 18' 2000

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Yuki Onodera (Japanese, born 1962)
Look Out the Window, No. 18
2000
Gelatin silver print
Image: 59 x 49.2 cm (23 1/4 x 19 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Yuki Onodera

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Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, born 1966) 'Stranger (15)' 1998-2000

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Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, born 1966)
Stranger (15)
1998-2000
Chromogenic print
Mount: 124.5 x 104.9 cm (49 x 41 5/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Shizuka Yokomizo

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Alex Prager (American, born 1979) 'Megan' 2007

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Alex Prager (American, born 1979)
Megan
2007
Chromogenic print
Framed: 125.7 x 62.9 cm (49 1/2 x 24 3/4 in.)
Michael and Jane Wilson

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gm_34112801-WEB

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Gregory Crewdson (American, born 1962)
Untitled from the series Twilight
2002
Chromogenic print
Image: 122 x 152 cm (48 1/16 x 59 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Trish and Jan de Bont
© Gregory Crewdson

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Uta Barth (German, born 1958) 'Untitled (...and of time. #4)' 2000

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Uta Barth (German, born 1958)
Untitled (…and of time. #4)
2000
Chromogenic print
Image: 88.9 x 114.3 cm (35 x 45 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© 2000 Uta Barth

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The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

Opening hours:
Tues – Friday 10 am – 5.30 pm
Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday 10 am – 9 pm
Monday closed

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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02
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Portraits of New York: Photographs from the MoMA’ at La Casa Encendida, Madrid

Exhibition dates: 27th March – 14th June, 2009

 

I have collected a few photographs that appear in the exhibition.

Marcus

 

 

Paul Strand. 'Wall Street' 1915

 

Paul Strand
Wall Street
1915

 

Ted Croner. 'Central Park South' 1947-48

 

Ted Croner
Central Park South
1947-48

 

 

“Photographs from the MoMA, which will provide an in-depth look at an essential component of the MoMA’s assets: its photography collection. Curated by Sarah Hermanson Meister, associate curator of the museum’s department of photography, the exhibition offers an overview of the history of photography through the work of over 90 artists, with the iconic city as a backdrop. It includes some of the most prestigious names in photography, such as Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walter Evans, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, Cindy Sherman, Irving Penn and Alfred Stieglitz.

For Sarah Hermanson Meister, associate curator of the MoMA’s Department of Photography, “Portraits of New York amply reflects the history of synergies of this medium and of the Big Apple during a period of important transformations for both. The photographs generated by the restless and constant commitment of numerous photographers to the city of New York have played a fundamental role in determining how New Yorkers perceive the city and themselves. These photographs have also defined the city’s image in the world’s imagination.

[…] The urban landscape of the city is a combination of the old and the new in constant evolution, and these physical transformations are repeated in the demographic changes that have characterised the city since the 1880s, when massive waves of immigrants began to arrive. This same diversity can be seen in the photography of New York of the past four decades. Just as its architects are inspired and limited by surrounding structures and building codes, and just as its inhabitants learn and rub up against each other and previous generations, so too the photographers of New York transport the visual memory of a an extensive and extraordinary repertoire of images of the city. They take on the challenge of creating new works that go beyond traditions and respond to what is new in New York.”

The exhibition curator continues: “Throughout the 20th century, numerous artists have felt inspired by New York’s combination of glamour and rawness. The city – which acquired its modernity at the same pace as photography, and in an equally impetuous and undisciplined way – has always been a theme of particular vitality for photographers, both those who have visited the city and those who live in it. On one occasion, faced with the challenge of capturing the essence of New York with a camera, the photographer Berenice Abbott wondered, “How shall the two-dimensional print in black and white suggest the flux of activity of the metropolis, the interaction of human beings and solid architectural constructions, all impinging upon each other in time?” Each of the photographs reproduced here is a unique response to that question.

New York may not be the capital of the United States, but it prides itself on being the capital of the world. Its inhabitants are intimate strangers, its avenues are constantly teeming and its buildings are absolutely unmistakeable, though they are packed so close together that it is impossible to see just one. The New York subway runs twenty-four hours a day, which has earned it the sobriquet of “the city that never sleeps.” It is the model for Gotham City, the disturbing metropolis that Batman calls home, and a symbol of independence and a wellspring of opportunities in a wide variety of films, from Breakfast at Tiffany‘s to Working Girl. And this is just a sample of the captivating and abundant raw material that the city offers to artists, regardless of the medium in which they work. However, it is the convergence of photographers in this city – in this place that combines anonymity and community, with its local flavour and global ambitions – that has created the ideal setting for the development of modern photography.”

Text from the La Casa Encendida website

 

Arthur Fellig (Weegee) 'Coney Island' 1940

 

Arthur Fellig (Weegee) 
Coney Island
1940

 

Bruce Davidson. 'Untitled' from the 'Brooklyn Gang' series 1959

 

Bruce Davidson
Untitled from the Brooklyn Gang series
1959

 

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #21
1978

 

Diane Arbus. 'Woman with Veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C' 1968

 

Diane Arbus
Woman with Veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C
1968

 

Bernice Abbott. 'Night View, New York City' 1932

 

Bernice Abbott
Night View, New York City
1932

 

 

La Casa Encendida
Ronda Valencia, 2 28012 Madrid

Opening hours:
La Casa Encendida is open from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year except national and Community of Madrid holidays

La Casa Encendida website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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