Considered a member of the Pictorialist school and included in the historic Albright Gallery Exhibition in Buffalo in 1910, Struss was also recognised to have a decidedly independent vision. A student of the Photo-Secessionist Clarence White while at Columbia University, Struss was also closely tied to Alfred Stieglitz, who reproduced his work in the April 1912 issue of Camera Work. Also during this same period Struss became associated with the painter Max Weber, through their mutual link to Stieglitz. Through Weber's teachings combined with White's dissemination of the tenents of their teacher Arthur Wesley Dow, Struss developed an understanding for the principles of abstract composition. In his 1913 article in the journal Platinum Print, "The Filling of Space," Weber expressed that, "Photography is flat space art, as is drawing, painting or printing. The page or the canvas is empty, but pregnant with birth as is space, waiting for the touch of the inspired mind. The photographer's art lies supremely in his choice or disposition of visible objects, as prompted and guided by his intellect and his taste."
From his return to New York from Europe in 1909 until 1916 Struss made over four hundred negatives of the city. Most often drawn to sites which highlighted the city's dynamism, many of Struss' most successful images were those of the landmarks of New York. Brooklyn Bridge - Nocturne can easily be considered one of his most well realized depictions of the city. Struss presents the Bridge - a subject embraced by many American and European artists as a symbol of the modern age - combining his pictorialist language with a clear nod to the modernist sensibilities of his contemporaries, White, Coburn and Stieglitz. Struss is able to retain the romantic undertones of the pictorialist vision while punctuating the bridge's reductivist span with abstracted balls of light, repeated in the distant lights of the skyline. Supporting his masterful vision, are Struss' exquisite print making abilities, producing a dense, smokey, atmospheric representation.
For another work from Struss' series on New York see the following day sale, 13 October 2000, lot 254.