Wall Street, 1915
Paul Strand (October 16, 1890 - March 31, 1976) was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow Modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Exile from McCarthyism
Although Strand is best known for his early abstractions, his return to still photography in this period of exile produced some of his most significant work in the form of six book Ďportraitsí of place: Time in New England (1950), La France de Profil (1952), Un Paese (featuring photographs of the Po River Valley in Italy, 1955), Tir a'Mhurain / Outer Hebrides (1962), Living Egypt (1969) and Ghana: an African portrait (1976). The geography of Strandís work is itself important. The historian of art Mike Weaver, has made the case that each of these books, in different ways, reflects Strandís abiding commitment to the exploration of Marxist aesthetic.
Strand also insisted that his books should be printed in Leipzig, East Germany, even if this meant that they were initially prohibited from the American market on account of their Communist provenance. De-classified intelligence files, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and now lodged at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, reveal that Strandís movements around Europe were closely monitored by the security services. Recent scholarship has drawn attention to the timing of Strandís visit to South Uist in Scotlandís Outer Hebrides in 1954, at precisely the moment when the island became a new frontier in the Cold War as the test site for America and Britainís first guided nuclear weapon, the Corporal missile.
Strandís interest in rural forms of sociality, unusual for a Marxist, was a means by which he explored universal themes about the meaning of community. Local forms of solidarity and communal life were, for Strand, a powerful symbol of resistance against those forces of militarism and capitalism that he opposed.
Paul Strand's estate is managed by Aperture Foundation, New York.