Paul Strand

Peggy MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides (1954)

About this artwork

In 1954 Strand visited South Uist, an island of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland where he spent three months photographing the people and land for the book ‘Tìr a’ Mhurain’ (1962). Taken from a traditional Gaelic song, the title translates as ‘Land of Bent Grass’. After hearing a radio programme on the folksongs of South Uist, Strand travelled there with his wife. He was introduced to the islanders by the local doctor, and photographed many residents in and around their homes, often posing them before a weathered wall. He believed these people represented the universal struggle of humanity and sequenced the images within the book in such a way as to evoke the heroic, yet remote lives of the dwindling population.

Paul Strand

Paul Strand

Paul Strand was one of the leading modernist photographers in the United States, with a career spanning sixty years. Born in New York City, he was a student of Lewis W. Hine at the Ethical Culture School, New York, from 1904-08, and by 1916 had a solo show at Alfred Stieglitz's Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession. During the 1930s, Strand became engaged in filmmaking and did not return to still photography until the 1940s, at which time he was given a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1945. With McCarthyism sweeping America in the 1950s, Strand, who was suspected of communist tendencies, went into exile in France. During this period he began working on a series of photo essays in search of an ideal community that embraced the strong moral values he wanted to record with the camera. In the early 1970s Strand returned to America, where a series of retrospectives toured the country. Strand died in 1976 at Orgeval, France.