Paul Strand. Porch Railings, Twin Lakes, Connecticut. 1916

Paul Strand Porch Railings, Twin Lakes, Connecticut 1916

  • Not on view

In a series of pictures that Strand took in the summer of 1916 at his family’s cottage in Connecticut, he explored how to produce abstract photographs without, he said, resorting to "tricks of process or manipulation." Instead he worked with the patterns of sunlight and shadow made by the cottage’s porch railing. If need be he might include a round table, but turned it on its side and moved in close so that table and railing were barely recognizable. Finally, when exhibiting the print, he rotated it ninety degrees. Strand wrote that photography could either represent objects or function as "abstract forms to create an emotion unrelated to objectivity."

Strand's vision was shaped by his relationship with the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, in whose New York gallery he saw the work of the European avant-garde. Stieglitz was a champion of Strand's, dedicating the entire June 1917 issue of his journal Camera Work to new images by the photographer, including some from the porch series. Stieglitz praised these photographs as "the direct expression of today."

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013.
Silver platinum print
12 15/16 × 9 11/16" (32.8 × 24.6 cm)
Thomas Walther Collection. Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel
Object number
© Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Installation views

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