I remember coming across Paul Strand's Blind Woman when I was very young, and that really bowled me over. . . . It's a very powerful picture. I saw it in the New York Public Library file of Camera Work , and I remember going out of there over stimulated: That's the stuff, that's the thing to do. It charged me up.
The impact of seeing this striking image for the first time is evident in Walker Evans's vivid recollection. At the time, most photographers were choosing "pretty" subjects and creating fanciful atmospheric effects in the style of the Impressionists. Paul Strand's unconventional subject and direct approach challenged assumptions about the medium.
At once depicting misery and endurance, struggle and degradation, Strand's portrait of a blind woman sets up a complex confrontation. "The whole concept of blindness," as one historian has noted, "is aimed like a weapon at those whose privilege of sight permits them to experience the picture. . . ."