Schooled with the photographer Lewis Hine and with close ties to Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand (New York, 1890 - Orgeval, France, 1976) is a prevalent figure in the definition and practice of modern photography, found halfway between straight photography and documentary. From the middle of the Twenties, New York becomes a starting point and important setting for the artist and other artists with similar viewpoints. However, in 1950 Strand abandons New York and relocates to France, thus the exhibition Paul Strand: The World on My Doorstep. 1950-1976, documents, via one hundred and fifty images, Strand's work in Europe during the twenty five years of his self-exile
Once settled in France, Strand looks to set in motion a previously conceived project, “to visualise a village embodying and representing an unbroken exchange between people, environment and nature”, given that, as the photography specialist, Ute Eskildsen, points out, his purpose is to “confirm a social system in relation to nature.”
The exhibition opens with a foreword made up of a selection of images from his New York period (around 1915), outlining the roots of his style and working method. The rest is organised around what would become his life project: photographic journeys with a certain anthropological aim, noteworthy for the value given to the idea of objectivity in the images: France (1950-1951), Italy (1953-1954), the Outer Hebrides (1954), Egypt (1959), Morocco (1962) and Ghana (1963-1964). All of his journeys create a photo book, a personal portrait of each country (La France de profil, Un paese, Tir a´Mhurain, Living Egypt, The Garden and Ghana: An African Portrait).
The selection closes with photographs taken in the garden of his house in Orgeval, on the outskirts of Paris. In the close-ups of plants and flower beds, which become abstraction due to their small scale and soft focus, Strand refers to his own inner world, reflected in works such as On my doorstep (1976).
The aim of the images is, once again, not to portray what is known; he does not attempt to discover or revive the image of a country, rather he looks to explore life in those places through faces and the daily activities of their inhabitants. Strand's work revolves around the notion of composition, the sharpness of the images that is not manipulated during development and the use of close-ups, all of which is interspersed with the search for the relationship between man and machines or religion, as seen in Leaving church, Romania (1967).
In Strand's photography, architecture, domestic ornaments, tools and people all possess an homogenised beauty, and are, in the words of Ekildsen, “symbols of a culture that has grown organically on the land.”
Fotografische Sammlung-Museum Folkwang, Essen (April 24 - June 12, 1994); Fotomuseum in Münchner Stadtmuseum, Munich (June 22 - August 7, 1994); Lilehammer Kunstmuseum, Lilehammer (November 10, 1994 - February 3, 1995); Nederlands Foto Institut, Rotterdam (March 11 - April 23, 1995); Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (May 26 - July 9, 1995); Galleria Carla Sozzan, Milano (September 14 - October 29, 1995); Museo di Storia della Fotografia Fratelli Alinari, Firenze (November 8, 1995 - January 5, 1996); Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich (January 19 - March 31, 1996); Rupertinum Salzburger Landessammlungen, Salzburg (April 5 - June 9, 1996); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (July 2 - September 25, 1996); Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris (February 3 - March 3, 1997); L’Aubette, Ministère de la Culture, Strasbourg (April 4 - May 11, 1997); Centre National de l’Audiovisuel, Luxemburg (Summer 1997)