PAUL STRAND (1890-1976)
PAUL STRAND (1890-1976)
PAUL STRAND (1890-1976)
PAUL STRAND (1890-1976)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection
PAUL STRAND (1890-1976)

Mullein Maine, 1927

PAUL STRAND (1890-1976)
Mullein Maine, 1927
platinum print, mounted on board
signed 'Paul Strand' dated and titled '1927 Maine' and annotated 'Blue Black Platinum / Platinotype / fine print' in pencil (upper center on the reverse of the mount); credited, titled and dated on affixed gallery labels (frame backing board)
image: 9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in. (24.4 x 19.3 cm.)
sheet/mount: 10 x 7 3/4 in. (25.4 x 19.6 cm.)
Michael E. Hoffman, New York.
Peter Daub, New York (acquired from the above, 1986).
Galerie Zur Stockeregg, Zurich (acquired from the above, 1989).
Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above); sale, Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, New York, 15-16 April, 2002, lot 42.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
K. Fleischmann, Paul Strand, Zurich, 1987, pp. 56-57.
Zurich, Galerie fur Kunstphotographie zur Stockeregg, Paul Strand, 1987-1990, vol. 5, p.56.
Washington, National Gallery of Art; Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago; St. Louis, The St. Louis Art Museum; Houston, The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; M.H. de Young Memorial Museum; London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Paul Strand: an American Vision, December 1990-November 1992, pl. 107.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

"New England has and I think will always have a special meaning for Americans. The land and its people, their cities and towns, their factories and mills, the villages surrounded by farms, the long coast and the sea whipping against it—all these are New England." - Paul Strand

In June, 1917, Alfred Stieglitz closed out his journal Camera Work with a double issue of work by just one photographer—Paul Strand. “The eleven photogravures in this number represent the real Strand. The man who has actually done something from within. The photographer who has added something to what has gone before. The work is brutally direct. Devoid of all flim-flam; devoid of trickery and of any ‘ism;’ . . . . These photographs are the direct expression of today.” High-praise from the man himself.

During the 1920s, tight on funds, Paul Strand took on commercial jobs as a cameraman for newsreels and some Hollywood films, which allowed him little time to pursue his own work. This photograph was made in the summer of 1927 when Paul and Rebecca made their way to Maine to escape the summer heat, staying at Georgetown Island visiting their friends Gaston and Isabel Lachaise. Strand dedicated this rejuvenating down-time to close-up photographs of rocks, plants, mushrooms, and mullein, a common road-side plant (pictured here). Nominally seen as a weed, mullein has a wooly texture and possesses sedative qualities used for centuries by Native Americans.

Strand writes that for his work in nature he needed, “a range of almost infinite tonal values which lie beyond the skill of human hand.” In order to achieve this, he started with a large 8x10 inch negative with which he could contact print onto platinum paper. His mastery of photographic printing was legendary, even at the time, and he convinced the Platinotype Company to double-coat their commercially made platinum paper having demonstrated the quality he was able to achieve.

This particular print is lush, rich and velvety beyond belief. On the back is written, in addition to his own signature, title and date, the following inscription in his own hand: “Blue black Platinum/Platinotype/fine print,” signaling just how important this print was, and still is. Strand, an exacting craftsman, was known to go through piles of prints and tear to shreds examples that did not meet his standards. This print was with his estate until ten years after his death in 1976.

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