SANTA FE, NM.- The Georgia OKeeffe Museum will host Moments in Modernism: Paul Strand, Southwest, Friday, September 22, 2006 through Sunday, January 14, 2007. In this exhibition, curator Anthony Montoya brings together 35 photographs by Paul Strand (1890-1972), one of Americas pioneers of modernist photography. Each of its photographs was completed in the summers of 1930 through 1932, when Strand was living and working in New Mexico.
In the first decade of the 20th century, Strand began studying photography in New York with Lewis Hine. In the 1910s and 1920s, he discovered and was greatly inspired by the ideas and work of photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and the two became close friends. Stieglitz not only encouraged Strand, but also exhibited his work at his famous gallery, 291, and reproduced it in his equally well-known periodical, Camera Work. Stieglitz continued to exhibit Strands work until 1932.
Strand was also friends with Georgia OKeeffe (1887-1986), who was also a great admirer of his work. Like OKeeffe, Strand was fascinated with the unusual character of the indigenous architecture of New Mexico, as well as its striking terrain. Both made these the subjects of their work in the summer of 1930, when both spent the summer in and around Taos. OKeeffe was also friends with Strands wife, Rebecca, and had traveled to New Mexico with her in 1929, the first year OKeeffe began spending summers working there.
The photographs in the exhibition fall into three categories. The first consists of Southwestern landscapes that demonstrate Strands precise structuring of his subject. Another is a series of portraits of his wife, who had been one of the subjects of his work in the 1920s. The degree of realism in his photographs of New Mexico architectural forms ghost towns and abandoned haciendas which make up the third group, reveal Strands increasing interest in making images that function as records of objective truth.
While in New Mexico, Strand photographed subjects through which he could further his experiments with synthesizing the real and the abstract, says Montoya. This period was also one of great difficulty for Strand personally, in that in 1932, both his marriage and his friendship with Stieglitz ended.
Montoya is the director of the Paul Strand Archive at Aperture Foundation, Inc. He was raised in Albuquerque, studied photography at the University of New Mexico, and has long been engaged with the medium of photography. In 2004, Montoya began working on this exhibit, which has come to Santa Fe from the Cincinnati Art Museum and will be exhibited at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2007.
Strands Southwest period produced works that are now recognized as important examples of modernist photography, and they also reveal the ways in which he responded to the same landscape and architectural forms that fascinated OKeeffe, says Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator of the Georgia OKeeffe Museum, and the Emily Fisher Landau director of the Georgia OKeeffe Museum Research Center.