Blind Woman, 1916
Blind Woman, 1916 by Paul Strand. Numbered photographic print of 500 copies. Size 18 x 24cm, made by laboratory Processus on fine art Hahnemühle paper.
For one year, Paul Strand (1890-1916) took covert portraits in the streets of New York, including one of this blind woman, which immediately achieved iconic status. It was published in the final issue of Camera Work in 1917. Her one-eyed gaze seemed to echo the decline of this particular editorial venture, which had less than 40 subscribers at that time.
The last issue, number 49-50, in large part dedicated to Strand’s new work, established the basis for “objective photography”. In other words, a “pure” and “direct” photography, which “doesn’t rely on the tricks of process” and which “is striking in its brutal immediacy”, to quote Stieglitz.
The extreme frontal view, the close framing and the attening effect of the word ‘Blind’ written on the sign hung around the woman’s neck, intensify the two-dimensionality of the image. This formal strategy still manages to preserve the integrity of the individual depicted, because it is employed in the service of social commentary.
For Strand, “the camera is a machine – and an incredible machine. (...) By using it purely and intelligently, we can make it the instrument of a new type of vision, of hitherto unexplored possibility, linked to painting and other types of fine art, but not impinging on them in any way.”
Printed by Processus laboratory on Hahnemühle, Photo Rag Baryta 315g.