© Aperture Foundation, Inc., Paul Strand Archive, 2022


Café Planchon, France
Paul Strand
Gelatin silver print on baryta paper
Printed area size: 24,4 × 19,4 cm
Paper size: 25,4 × 20,3 cm
Signed by Ann Kennedy on the back
Born: Nueva York, 1890
Died: Orgeval, Francia, 1976
France (1950-1951) (Paul Strand)

© Aperture Foundation, Inc., Paul Strand Archive, 2022


In 1950 Paul Strand left the United States due in great measure to the increasingly hostile social and political environment generated by the “witch hunt” of McCarthyism. Together with Hazel Kingsbury, who would become his third wife, Strand arrived in France. After their wedding that following year, they traveled the country together. Resulting from this journey and following the format of joining image and text that was established in his book Time in New England, the artist produced La France de Profil [France in Profile] in 1952.  The book was published by renowned Swiss publisher Guilde du Livre, with texts by the writer and poet Claude Roy, whose points of view on the social reality and the ethical commitment of artists coincided with Strand’s.

In Café Planchon Paul Strand presents a rhetoric characteristic of the avant-garde, one of texts that belie the visual reality they attempt to portray, which grants them an inevitable and warm ironical distance. The image also contains a sense of artistic joy that is not merely related to the formal composition but is manifested in the proliferation of the vegetation, in the tactility of textures, and in the charming gradation of light that is finally enveloped by shadow. The richness of the image arises as a result of the photographer’s attention to this particular reality, which is celebrated in the book, as well as his technical prowess and the dedication he poured into the prints made in the darkroom.


© Aperture Foundation, Inc., Paul Strand Archive, 2022

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