The photographer to Dr. Erhard Frommhold, Verlag der Kunst, Dresden
Acquired by the present owners from the above, 2006
Other prints of this image:
Paul Strand and Cesare Zavattini, Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village (Aperture, 1997), dust jacket and p. 81
Michael E. Hoffman, ed., Paul Strand: Sixty Years of Photographs (Aperture, 1976), p. 75
Maren Strange, ed., Paul Strand, Essays on His Life and Work (Aperture, 1990), p. 256
Sarah Greenough, Paul Strand: An American Vision (Aperture and The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1990, in conjunction with the exhibition), p. 129
Frantisek Vrba, SNKLU Series: Paul Strand (Prague, 1961), pl. 59
Anne M. Lyden, In Focus: Paul Strand (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), pl. 37
Aperture Masters of Photography: Paul Strand (Aperture, 1987), dust jacket
Keith F. Davis, An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital (Kansas City, 1999), pl. 362
'The Family, Luzzara' is the signature image from Strand's photographic portrait of the village of Luzzara, in the Po region of Italy. Disillusioned by McCarthyism and the political situation in the United States, Strand moved to Europe in the early 1950s, seeking new subjects for his work. His examination of different countries abroad resulted in five books, devoted to France, Italy, the Outer Hebrides, Egypt, and Ghana. For his Italian study, Strand settled on one village, Luzzara, suggested by the cinematographer Cesare Zavattini, who had been born there. Accompanied by Zavattini's text, Strand's photographs were published in 1955 in the volume Un Paese (Turin: Giulio Einaudi). The present image was reproduced on that first printing's dust jacket, and has been used as the cover image on many subsequent editions.
Strand's cultural portrait of Luzzara is imbued with the aftermath of war. The matriarch of the present image, Anna Spagiari Lusetti, had been married at 18, and had given birth to 15 children. She had seen her husband beaten for political reasons on more than one occasion, and after his premature death in 1933, she was left to raise the family on her own. All but the youngest of her sons had fought in World War II, not only in Italy, but in France, Greece, Germany, Africa, and England; all endured deprivation and hardship. When the present image was made, the family was eking out a living as sharecroppers on someone else's land.
The themes of human suffering and resilience, so much a part of Strand's many cultural studies, is exemplified by the words of Anna Lusetti that formed part of the text for the present image:
'Remo was watching when they beat his father in Via Catania in Campagnola. A car stopped and there were five or six people, it was around five in the evening. Nino says he has never understood why they fought the war. Nino was a prisoner in Africa, where he ended up with his brother Valentino, who was also a prisoner. The first time Afro was on a train was when he went into the service in '43; then he ran away home. Guerrino's health was affected by the blows he received in Germany. Nando was also there, and in order to survive he even ate a rabbit skin. He lives eight kilometers away because there isn't room for everyone in the farmhouse. And it's a house where the rain comes in.
'In 1945 they asked me if I wanted revenge, but I didn't.'
The photograph offered here and in the following lot, as well as those in Lots 195 through 201 and Lot 228, come originally from the collection of Dr. Erich Frommhold, of the Verlag der Kunst firm of Dresden. Founded in 1952, the Verlag der Kunst made its reputation as a publisher of art books of superb quality. Two volumes of Strand's cultural studies carried the Verlag der Kunst imprint: the German editions of Tir a'Mhurain, with text by Basil Davidson (1962), and Living Egypt, with text by James Aldridge (1969). Verlag der Kunst also published books of photographs by Helmar Lerski and John Heartfield.
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