A warm, noble eye over humanity characterises Paul Strand’s photographs and films, currently on display ay the V&A until 3 July. Strand’s preoccupation with political injustice never weighs down his photographs too much, save for perhaps one overtly propagandistic work.
Rather than stylistic bombast, he infuses each of his works with an immersion into the person, the surroundings, the conditions, and the timelessness.
From his native America, where he was a protégé of Alfred Stieglitz and a collaborator of Walt Whitman, to Mexico, Italy and Ghana, Strand draws from his deep sense of shared suffering, dignity, and texture to convey works both rooted in place and liberated from it.
The most successful film on display here, “The Wave”, is reminiscent of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” in its lyrical exploration of spirituality and earthly futility, shown through the simple, starkly filmed story of the Mexican fisherman Miro and his search for work.