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Paul Strand, the realism of photography.


" Anywhere remote or otherwise, which is Morocco, the Hebrides islands, the rural Italy, in Africa or in the deep southwest of the United.States, my intention was to be in search of long aggregation that each place the its peculiar quality and plasma profiles of its peoples ........ So in the end, I realize that what I have for life is the world to my front door ".

The flesh words plays like an epitaph, instead they are the short introduction of the book " On my doorstep ",  wrote before the dead.

Phrases soaked of sadness for the illness that  obliged him to leave the only thing he had loved with such passion.

Paul Strand embody the realism of photography, even if in his career is easy to find some incoherence, when the images had a sharp and unconscius obiection to pictorialism.

From the ancient times the painting and photography are compared, they have hold an high esteem, but at the same times you hate it.

Both have the merit of imagination, interpretation and the reality of the fantastic, giving a person a sense to look at creativity and the ability to be able to admire the infinite nuances of objects and subjects.

In youth, Paul Strand had not yet fully understood, but in the full maturity his portraits will target primarily the building of the painting although

certainly in different spheres.

Strand was born in New York at the end of the last century from a bourgeois family. The orientation of the study is addressed to art and literature, but will choose to do the job of photographer that only a part of leave to engage in some of the experiences of director, which completely satisfied him.
In this branch will be rewarded many times and will carry out some movies. 

If the first times are dubious and not very defined, the career will have two main turning - point: after the first images in publicity, where the photographer known the works of poor gratification, the meeting with Alfred Stieglitz is crucial to be known to a wider audience and especially to lead the elite culture of New York.

During the years of the first war Stieglitz is a person intuitive, full of ideas. He organizes exhibitions of Impressionist, Cubist, which subvert the aesthetic criteria of the nineteenth century and then of photographers secessionist on the Fifth Avenue in the Big Apple.

Strand after the first show in the gallery to be able to appreciate and begin a collaboration with the magazine Camera Works.

Stieglitz is a master of American current  that will provide  a way of representing images in a way unique. He has a large influence on a generation of photographers: Ansel Adams, Minor White, E. Steichen, E. Weston, Berenice Abbott and others.

Paul Strand will fit perfectly into this school of photography, even if we say that the critics in their debates have often collected several artist under a single section without taking account of some technical differences of expression.

In fact the Universal landscape of Ansel Adams, epic, of extraordinary sharpness with innovative methods of printing and without people in the scenes, as is second-to Minor White, or the ductile images and experimental of Weston, could not be compared to some aesthetes, as good, but basically the documentarists.

André Kertesz has always been the subject of open discussion among historians, who are wondering if it has become an American photographer, in the sense of visual expression, when the origins were in Hungary and only in the maturity he takes U.S. citizenship.

The second meeting of major importance in the artistic career of Strand place after several travels. At conference in Perugia the photographer known Cesare Zavattini with whom will come an opportunity for to make the book " A country ".

The book offers the option of telling the beauty and the emotions of an rural Italy in the postwar. Strand enter with camera in the spontaneity and humility of the villages, takes faces and expressions, showing the relationships between residents, sometimes taking up the objects and local hand - made.

The texts are written of Zavattini while the images are of Luzzara town, a place where neo-realist director was born who dispenses advices on the peculiarities of the community at the time of particular social changes.

The original idea of narrating these places in a dialogue of pen and negative in perfect symbiosis with the time and space, to the photographer must acknowledge enormous credit for having undertaken a precise observation of a hope in the country, waiting for a better future but with a willingness of to work and build, where the mental spectrum of the Second World War was not entirely disappeared.

Paul Strand had already crossed the experience of " Time in New England " and especially " Le profil de France " that made him know the lifestyles in Europe, at very different than Americans, but that probably had not met from a cultural point of view and ideal.

Paul Strand has always like the black and white never manipulated with chemical tricks, while the stamps were at platinum or palladium, for to extrapolate the purity of tonal range. It was never in high contrast.

The photographer uses a large equipment: folding in external spaces, which require patience and precision, for to get a perfect focus on the glass. Often, he takes simple shots  without a formal aestheticism.





Alto Egitto, 1959 - Paul Strand         Ghana, 1963 - P. Strand.

               Egypt, 1959                                                   Ghana 1963

Accra, 1964 - Paul Strand.         Danza, Ghana, 1963 - Paul Strand.

             Accra, 1964                                                      Ghana, 1963

 Isole Ebridi, 1954 - Paul Strand.           Ebridi, 1954 - P. Strand.

         Hebridi Island, 1954                                            Hebridi Islands, 1954

Luzzara, poveri, 1953 - P. Strand.           Italia, 1953 - Paul Strand.

       Luzzara, Italy, 1953                                         Italy, 1953


All images are protected of copyright - Paul Strand / Aperture Foundation ©.



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