PAUL STRAND (1890–1976)
The Family, Luzzara, Italy, 1953
toned gelatin silver print, flush-mounted on paper, printed late 1950s
artist's printing notes in pencil (flush mount, verso)
image: 8 7/8 x 11 1/8 in. (22.5 x 28.2 cm.)
sheet: 9 x 11 1/4 in. (22.8 x 28.5 cm.)
Acquired directly from the artist by a private collector;
Christie's, New York, April 23-24, 2007, lot 209;
acquired form the above by the present owner.
Cesare Zavattini, Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village, Aperture, New York, 1955, p. 81.
Beaumont Newhall, The History of Photography from 1839 to The Present Day, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1964, p. 121.
Paul Strand: A Retrospective Monograph: The Years 1950-1968, Aperture, New York, vol. 2, 1972, pl. 209.
Naomi Rosenblum, The World History of Photography, Abbeville Press, New York, 1984, p. 439.
Mike Weaver, The Art of Photography, 1839-1989, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1989, pl. 193.
Sarah Greenough, Paul Strand, An American Vision, Aperture, New York, 1993, p. 129.
Catherine Duncan, Paul Strand: The World on my Doorstep, Aperture, New York, 2005, pl. 56.
Anne M. Lyden, In Focus: Paul Strand, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2005, pl. 37.
Calvin Tomkins, Paul Strand: Sixty Years of Photographs, Aperture, New York, 2009, p. 75.
Peter Barberie et al., Paul Strand Master of Modern Photography, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, pl. 175.
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Lot Essay

Following his modernist works of the 1920s, Paul Strand reevaluated the direction of his work, moving toward a new enthusiasm for portraiture - both of a place and its people. In some ways, he was taking a step back, looking at his images of the 1910s, such as White Fence, Port Kent, New York, 1916. 'It was very alive,' Strand said of that picture, 'very American, very much part of this country.' However, as Strand set out to record Mexico in the 1930s and then Europe in the 1940s and 1950s, he strove toward this idea of creating a more complete portrait of a place (Paul Strand, Sixty Years of Photographs, Aperture, pp. 23, 34).

At the same time, the sociological element in Strand's work was beginning to develop. During his travels in the 1930s in New Mexico and Mexico he grew fascinated with the idea of the basic characteristics of a town or community - the people, the architecture, the landscape - which together are integral in capturing the essence of a place. Here, his involvement in leftist politics also began to evolve. Later in the '30s and '40s he worked on many socially conscious film projects including ‘The Plow That Broke the Plains’, produced for the Resettlement Administration.

In 1950, together with Hazel Kingsbury who became his third wife a year later, Strand set out to photograph in France, seeking what he described, 'to find and show many of the elements that make this village a particular place where particular people live and work.' They found the village not in France but in Luzzara, Italy, along the Po River. Accompanied by a native resident named Valentino Lusetti, Strand chose to photograph his Italian comrade’s family. Pictured are Valentino’s mother, Anna, by then a widow. Surrounding the doorway are Valentino’s brothers: Bruno, Guerrino, Afro and Nino. The image, a masterpiece in composition as much as in its poetic sensibility, was subsequently featured in Strand’s book Un Paese (A Village), a visual journey of the town and its people. Published in 1955, the book was a collaboration with the screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, whose text explored the experiences of everyday life for the community of Luzzara.

Considered by many to be Strand’s most important Post-War work, The Family, Luzzara, visually speaks to all the associations of people to place that Strand had been searching and striving for since his 1944 work ‘Time in New England’ (ibid, pp. 32, 33).

The lot offered here is one of only two known prints of this image still in private hands. According to the Strand Archive, three approximately 5 x 6 inch contact prints are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio. Five 8 x 10 inch prints, likely made around the time Strand purchased his first enlarger in 1956, are also in institutional collections. One other print in the same dimensions as the present lot is at the Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg, Florida. Lastly, four large 11 x 14 inch exhibition prints were made, three of which are also with institutions.

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