Paul Strand: "Objectivity is of the very essence of photography, its contribution and at the same time its limitation..."

Paul Strand by Alfred Stieglitz taken in 1919

"So finally, it can be seen that what I have explored all my life is the world on my doorstep.... The artist's world is limitless. It can be found everywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away."
--Paul Strand


The American artist Paul Strand had a long and productive career with the camera. His pictorialist studies of the 1910s, followed by the coolly seductive machine photographs of the 1920s, like the contemporary work of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped define the canon of early American modernism and set its premium on the elegant print. Experimenting with Charles Sheeler, Strand then pushed further in describing the movement of the city in the short film Manhatta (1920). In the 1930s, he became seriously involved with documentary film and, from the 1940s until the end of his life, he was committed to making photographic books of the highest quality. After 1950, when he relocated to France, landscape, architecture, and portraiture (the traditional humanist genres) continued to inspire Strand to embody the spirit of his subjects in the very materials of the photographic print. The high regard for his mature work suggests that he succeeded in his goals, and that his standards of excellence and his constancy of subject answered very human needs in a century of radical change.