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Paul Strand (Masters of Photography) Paperback – Aug 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture; Prima edizione (First Edition) edition (Aug 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0893812595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0893812591
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 20.4 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Shows examples of Strand's portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and abstract photography and offers a brief appreciation of his work.

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Feb 2004
This book is a superb short summary of the work of Paul Strand, with many of his excellent pictures. The book is part of the Masters of Photography series, which is generally very good too. Overall, a very good buy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Glimpse of Paul Strand 6 Dec 1999
By Joseph Allen - Published on
This book presents a small collection of Mr. Strand's images, all titled and dated, and offers a glimpse of the entire span of his career. We are given a sense of his work through four of the major times and places during his life: his photographic apprenticeship in New York during the late 1910's, a sampling of his work done under commission in Mexico, his well known work in New England, and finally, images taken after his emigration to France, in 1950. A brief biography precedes the photographs that follow, and we are left to consider the images free from further didactic comment.
At first sight, one senses immediately the charm this man might have possessed in his relationships with both himself and those people and things surrounding his life. This sense is borne out in the wry humor of "Town Hall", with its off kilter framing, which we instantly recognize as Paul Strand. Ironically, a closer study of his personal life indicates Mr. Strand could be a difficult man. The well-known "Wall Street", an earlier piece of darkly shadowed monstrous windows overpowering passers by, is as close to the foggy pictorialist sense Strand will get, and the rest of the images show him breaking away from that style, and moving head first into the previsualized and almost straight photographic style that he was to help break ground for.
In this collection, several of the photographs stand out; but many seem rather innocuous, specifically the portraits of those he knew personally, and those he didn't - none seem to capture the viewers imagination like those of Mr. Strands' contemporaries might, Edward Weston for one. Instead, they seem unimaginative and emotionless. Furthermore, it doesn't help that, lacking that content, it may be that his reputation as an innovative technician in the darkroom goes unnoticed here, seeing these images only on the page (in small 7 inch by 6 inch reprint).
On the other hand, we are shown some photographs which show how powerful a view of quiet solitude can be. Of particular note,"Tir a'Mhurain" stands alone. A wide view of the silence surrounding three horses watering in the bay, and in the very left foreground, they are being watched from far above by a lone white horse. The leading of the three animals has turned its mane toward, and is eyeing the lone horse. The silvery water of the bay reflects the stand of horses, and more strongly, that of an immense and clouded sky, suggesting a powerful solemnity. Faintly, in mid-ground, wood buildings of a fishing village are left powerless in front of only a small mountain range. Taken in 1954, an American living in France (but not able to speak the language), Mr. Strand might have felt himself the lone horse. The obtrusive sky begging for silence. The artist contemplating his subject from afar.
"Driveway" was taken late in his life (in fact, three years prior to his death) where he lived in France. This poetic view leads us through an overgrowth, tunnel-like, of bare tree limbs and branches. Beneath this dark surrounding of hibernating growth, two parallel white cobblestone paths. Our eyes search the dark, shadowed background to where we are being lead; almost imperceptible, at the end of the driveway, we make out a decrepit structure: a country cottage, seemingly empty and abandoned. One cannot help but feel the author's probable recognition of the path of his own life, and the awful truth of life: of autumn, the oncoming winter, the drawing to a close, and of coming home to a place unknown.
In this collection, these are his strongest images, these landscapes. - whether "Fox River", from his acclaimed book "Time in New England", or the handful of New York cityscapes, or the country landscapes and village life scenes, such as "Marketplace", taken in Italy. Robert Adams has suggested that Mr. Strands work went into decline following his emigration to France in 1950 (1). In actuality, it is these images we wish for more of. Mr. Strand's capacity was not limited by time and place, but by subject and content. Seeing the images borne from his emigrated life, one is left wanting less of his still life's and portraits, and more of what showed a more genuine side of Mr. Strand through symbolic form. Not the modernist machine pictures like "Oil Refinery", or "Akeley Motion Picture Camera", but more of "Landscape, Sicily, Italy", with its bare, white birch trees having cloistered the villager's in their quiet homes.
However, in this book, as a simple compendium of Mr. Strand's oeuvre, the viewer is at least left with a closer understanding of a part of what this celebrated photographer was seeing throughout the varied stages and places, both known and foreign, of his life.
1. Adams, Robert Why People Photograph, Aperture Press, 1994. pg. 85
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