About This Artwork

Paul Strand
American, 1890–1976

Porch Shadows, 1916

Silver-platinum print
33.1 x 22.9 cm (image); 33.7 x 23.4 cm (paper); 43.7 x 32.2 cm (hinged paper)
Signed and inscribed recto, on hinged paper, lower left, below image, in graphite: "Paul Strand 1916"; inscribed verso of print, lower left, in graphite: "7-1944-369"; signed and inscribed verso of print, lower right, in graphite: -"Paul Strand- / -1916-"; inscribed verso, on hinged paper, lower center, in graohite: "Shadows"; verso, on hinged paper, lower right, in graphite: "7-1944-369"

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.885

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

Paul Strand spent the summer of 1916 at his family’s cottage in Twin Lakes, Connecticut, attempting to give his understanding of Cubist art—abstraction through fragmentation, multiple points of view, and a reduction of people and objects to basic geometry—a photographic form. Strand made several radical choices in this work: he abandoned the traditional, upright perspective of the photograph; caused the table to appear tipped, as if to suspend its utilitarian function; deployed shadows to create powerful compositional diagonals; and suggested objectivity in the crispness of his negative and print. When Porch Shadows appeared in the final issue of Camera Work, it was a clear signal of a new aesthetic. As Strand wrote, true modernists should avoid all “tricks of process or manipulation” to celebrate photography’s inherent qualities as art.

For more on the Alfred Stieglitz collection at the Art Institute, along with in-depth object information, please visit the website: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Photographs from the Permanent Collection," March 20–May 30, 1976. (Miles Barth)

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Platinum Prints from the Permanent Collection," January 15-March 20, 1977. (Kathleen Lamb)

Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, August-November, 1985; traveled to Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, November 1985-February 1986.

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, "The New Vision: Photography Between the World Wars," September 22-December 31, 1989; traveled to San Franciso Museum of Modern Art, February 28-April 22, 1990; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, May 10-July 15, 1990; Art Institute of Chicago, September 15- December 1, 1990; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, February 5-April 28, 1991; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 8-August 4, 1991.

Paris, France, Centre Georges Pompidou, "L'invention d'un Art," October 12, 1989–January 1, 1990.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, "Art of Paul Strand," May, 1990-August, 1992.

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Paul Strand, Circa 1916," March 10–May 31, 1998; traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, June 19–September 15, 1998.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "The Other Side of Light: Shadows from the Photography Collection" December 1, 2007–February 24, 2008. (Newell G Smith)

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Photography on Display: Modern Treasures," May 9–September 13, 2009.

New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, "Inventing Abstraction, 1912-1925," December 23, 2012-April 15, 2013. (Leah Dickerman)

Publication History

Brock, Charles. 2006. "Charles Sheeler: Across Media." Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art. p. 24, fig. 2.

Hambourgh, Maria Morris. 1998. "Paul Strand Circa 1916." Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art. pl. 28.

Barberie, Peter. 2015. "Paul Strand." Exh. cat. Fundación Mapfre. p. 42, fig 18. (other print of this image)

Interpretive Resources

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