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Wall Street, New York

1915 (negative); 1916 (print)
Paul Strand (American, 1890–1976)

Paul Strand's iconic Wall Street is a sophisticated composition that demonstrates the synthesis of two of the modernist photographer's preferred subjects from the 1910s: individuals negotiating a rapidly changing city and geometric abstraction. Strand's image features a group of pedestrians passing by the monumental façade of the J.P. Morgan & Co. Building, located in Manhattan's financial district, their long shadows serving as attenuated counterpoints to the monolithic voids of the building's ground-floor windows. In this single photograph Strand captures the frenzied, anonymous nature of urban life as well as the overwhelming abstractions found in modern American cities.

Strand was an exacting craftsman who favored platinum chemistry during the 1910s. His printing process was painstaking: he first created larger negatives from the original sheets of camera film. These inter-negatives were in turn used to produce contact platinum prints. Strand created very few of these sizeable platinum photographs due to the many technical challenges involved. Indeed, the Museum's treasured platinum print of Wall Street dating to 1915 is one of only two known examples.

Although Strand crafted a limited number of large-scale platinum photographs, Wall Street became one of his most famous images because of his willingness to reproduce it in various photographic media and at different periods throughout his career.

Object Details

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