New York
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© Aperture Foundation

Paul Strand
American, New York City, 1916
Platinum print
9 5/8 x 12 15/16 in.

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Paul Strand's sharply focused image shows New York City nearly unencumbered by pedestrian or automotive traffic. In the foreground, spindly, leafless trees line up against massive apartment buildings. The same year this photograph was made, Strand exhibited his work at 291, a gallery operated by Alfred Stieglitz. An influential pioneer in the effort to elevate photography to the status of art, Stieglitz described Strand's work as "brutally direct, devoid of all flim-flam, devoid of trickery and of any 'ism.'" "These photographs," he stated, "are the direct expression of today."

Strand made this photograph shortly after becoming acquainted with Stieglitz and the Photo-Secessionist movement. The clarity of this image illustrates how deeply Stieglitz influenced Strand. Prior to their meeting, Strand's work was in the soft-focus style of Pictorialism.