[Geometric Backyards, New York]

Paul Strand American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 850

Strand’s small yard on West Eighty-Third Street was nothing much: a fenced-in plot with a few trees. When he first photographed it in 1913, he had shown it in springtime, softening his focus on trees in full flower. Four years later, the yard’s simple configuration of dirt, fence, and flora was consistent as ever. But Strand’s eye had evolved. Awakened to Cubist paintings and Japanese prints, he apprehended the familiar space as a field of light, shadow, and sublime geometry. His earlier picture was cloying, with only an errant streak of empty clothesline anticipating the composition to come. Returning in 1917, he observes from above, finding instead a bright white sheet expectant with possibilities.

[Geometric Backyards, New York], Paul Strand (American, New York 1890–1976 Orgeval, France), Platinum print

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