Paul Strand: Un Paese
Artist(s): Paul Strand
Year published: 2004
Total Pages: 108
Illustrations: Illustrated in B&W throughout
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“Wherever I happened to be,” wrote Paul Strand, “I sought the signs of a long partnership that give each place its special quality and create the profiles of its people. . . . ”
In 1953 the renowned American photographer Paul Strand, who was then living in France, suggested to Italian screenwriter Cesare Zavattini that they do a book together about a small town in Italy, a town that would reveal the spirit of a people. Strand asked Zavattini to choose a village with the elusive “special quality” he sought. Zavattini knew just such a village: his own birthplace of Luzzara, in the Po Valley. The collaboration of these two remarkable artists resulted in the classic book Un Paese.
Published in Italian in 1955, and now available for the first time in the English language, Un Paese captures in photographs and in spoken testimony the essential experience of daily life in Luzzara. It presents a series of intense portraits, graceful landscapes, and images of everyday objects. Paul Strand’s photographs are carefully distilled, deeply powerful; they contain the flavors and the rhythms of an entire culture crystallized in a single village. Zavattini successfully synthesizes text and image, aligning with the new cinematic trend of the day, a movement known as Italian neorealism. Their Luzzara is an ordinary village, neither overly picturesque nor greatly unusual, yet it is a town sustained by a grounded humanity and a profound love for the land by its people.