“Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century” at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is the first exhibition of its kind since the pioneering American photographer’s death in 1976, and the first in the UK in 40 years.
Featuring more than 200 objects including vintage photographic prints, films, books, notebooks, sketches, and Strand’s own cameras, the major retrospective reveals the way he defined the way fine art and documentary is understood and practiced today.
Arranged both chronologically and thematically, “Photography and Film for the 20th Century” traces Strand’s career over 60 years, showcasing his experiments with abstract photography and the moving image as well as the full extent of the images he produced throughout his global travels.
Highlights include his early experiments in abstraction, among the first abstract pictures made with a camera; his final photographic series of his home and garden in Orgeval, France; and the film “Manhatta,” produced in collaboration with Charles Sheeler and hailed as the first avant-garde film.
The exhibition also includes nine newly acquired photographs which purchased for the V&A with assistance from the Photographs Acquisitions Group. The black and white vintage prints were originally made for Strand’s photobook “Tir A’Mhurain.” (“Land of Bent Grass”).
Martin Barnes, curator of the exhibition said: “The V&A was one of a handful of UK institutions to collect Paul Strand’s work during his lifetime and the Museum now houses the most extensive collection of his prints in the UK.
“Through important additional loans, the exhibition explores the life and career of Strand, but also challenges the popular perception of Strand as primarily a photographer of American places and people of the early 20th century.”