Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century
at Victoria & Albert Museum
Until 3rd July 2016
OK, confession time. I will admit I had never heard of the American photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976) before seeing this new exhibition of his work at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. And whilst seeing the show has exposed what a glaring omission this is in my, obviously neglectful, knowledge of photography history, it has at least gone a long way to correcting it.
Paul Strand was both a fine art and a documentary photographer, a widely travelled man who photographed ordinary people in his native USA and in France, Italy, Morocco, Ghana and even the isolated Gaelic community on the Hebridean island of South Uist. The V&A has brought together over 200 of his works for this show, both stills and film, that demonstrates the astonishingly diverse nature of Strand’s output across a long, and peripatetic, career that spanned most of the 20th century.
New Mexico, Paul Strand, 1930 & Wall Street, New York, Paul Strand, 1915. Both © Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation
Strand’s work encompasses both the grand scale of sweeping vistas and the most intimate examples of portrait photography. But it is the powerful close-up portraits that stand out as Strand’s most memorable photographs. The pathos of an old blind woman in New York City, the palpable curiosity of three siblings at the window of their Hebridean croft or the intense penetrating stare of a young boy in France are all Strand images that are both haunting and evocative and will brand themselves onto your retinas. These are the images that stay with you long after you leave the gallery.
Milly, John and Jean MacLellan, Paul Strand, 1954, South Uist, Hebrides © Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation. Photograph Victoria and Albert Museum. Young Boy, Paul Strand, 1951, Gondeville, Charante, France. © Paul Strand Archive, Aperture Foundation
Paul Strand eventually ended his days living in France and continued to work into his mid-eighties. This is the first major exhibition of his work since his death in 1976 and it will bring his work to many who are longterm fans of this great American photographer and also to some who, like me, are grateful to have found a new master of the art to admire. Thanks for the introduction, Victoria & Albert Museum and special thanks to the American Friends of the V&A who supported bringing the Paul Strand exhibition to London. Good one.
The exhibition is on until 3rd July 2016.
Tickets: £9 (concessions available)
Daily: 10 am- 17.45 pm
Friday: 10pm – 10pm
Exhibitions close 15 minutes prior to Museum closing times.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
+44 (0)20 7942 2000