Woman of Alvarado, Paul Strand
An ambitious exhibition unfolds at the Aperture Foundation gallery in Chelsea. Photos, books, portfolios and a film make for a visual feast. Covering a multi-year trip during the 30’s to Mexico by noted photographer Paul Strand, the images are nuanced, varied and well executed. Of special note are a series of photos labeled “Near Satillo” that are sprinkled throughout the exhibit. These are striking landscape photos that reach out to the viewer with their glowing beauty.
Interesting, but only occasionally exceptional (like the photo above), are the enigmatic, shadowy pictures of the native Mexicans. The film “Redes” is a nice bit of labor propaganda by the then socialist Mexican government that is very well photographed, as are the film stills by Ned Scott.
Strand first visited Mexico in 1932 at the invitation of Carlos Chavez, the eminent Mexican composer and conductor, having developed a fervent commitment to "straight photography"-photographs intended to capture life realistically and objectively, without manipulation. He was eager to put his beliefs into practice in Mexico, then a country undergoing profound cultural and political change. Strand’s sojourn in Mexico, during which he not only produced his own work but was also appointed the Director of the Department of Photography and Film by the Mexican Secretariat of Public Education, was a time of great creative renewal for the artist-one of intense productivity, and the development of a method of working that would become the foundation of his subsequent endeavors: collective portraits of other lands. Through his extensive travels through Mexico’s rural areas, Strand assembled the startling portraits of rural Mexican men, woman, and children that form the heart of the book and exhibition, along with breathtaking landscapes, baroque churches, and photographs of religious iconography.
Through November 13 …
For more on this important exhibit: Aperture