Paul Strand (American, 18901976)
Platinum print; 13 3/8 x 10 1/8 in. (34 x 25.7 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.334)
© 1997, Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive
While he was in high school in New York City, Paul Strand studied photography with Lewis Hine, the social reformer and photographer. He also frequented Alfred Stieglitz's Little Galleries of the Photo-Secessionlater known as "291" for its address on Fifth Avenuewhere he quickly absorbed the lessons of modern European art through the work of Picasso, Brancusi, and Cézanne, among others. In 1916, Strand made a series of candid street portraits with a handheld camera fitted with a special prismatic lens, which allowed him to point the camera in one direction while taking the photograph at a ninety-degree angle. This seminal image of a street beggar was published in 1917 as a gravure in Stieglitz's magazine Camera Work and immediately became an icon of the new American photography, which integrated the objectivity of social documentation with the boldly simplified forms of modernism.