Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Thursday, April 21

Paul Strand’s Problem of Likeness, or, Notes toward a Theory of Portraiture

Illustrated Lecture
Time: 4:30pm
Location: Mahaney Center for the Arts, Room 125

Amanda Bock, Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs, Philadelphia Museum of Art


Building on a new approach to portraiture Paul Strand initially explored while working in New England, his intensive and intimate photographic study of the residents of the small Italian village of Luzzara rigorously probed the limits of the genre. In this talk, Amanda Bock, Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, attempts to account for these images—portraits that are deceptively straightforward; that are at once unassuming glimpses of the everyday and defiantly monumental; that hover somewhere between the studio and the street; that share many compositional affinities but yet refute redundancy; and that exist, surprisingly comfortably, between document and icon. Constructing a theory of portraiture for Strand’s Luzzaresi illuminates much about the photographer’s own portrait practice but also offers a new perspective on the state of American photography at mid century.

This lecture is a prelude to the museum’s summer exhibition Paul Strand in Vermont: 1943–1946.