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 Claude Roy, La France de Profil (Aperture, 2001), pp. 90-91
Michael E. Hoffman, ed., Paul Strand: Sixty Years of Photography (Aperture, 1976), pp. 120-121
Sarah Greenough, Paul Strand: An American Vision (Aperture and The National Gallery of Art, 1990, in conjunction with the exhibition), p. 162
Frantisek Vrba, SNKLU Series: Paul Strand (Prague, 1961), pl. 37
'Café de la Paix' was first published in Paul Strand and Claude Roy's evocative volume of life in France, La France de Profil (Lausanne: La Guilde de Livre, 1952). The first of Strand's studies of foreign cultures after leaving America in the early 1950s, La France de Profil comprises a montage of both pictures and words. Strand had initially hoped to photograph a quintessential French village, one that could capture the essence of the entire nation. Instead, he traveled and took pictures throughout the country, eventually synthesizing a number of locales for his study.
Rather than photograph the cliché or the famous, Strand concentrated on the quotidian details and rituals of the ordinary man in France: cafés, shop windows, harnesses on a wall, a horse and cart, the nets of a fisherman's boat. Like the book's photographic component, the poet Claude Roy's text is drawn democratically from a variety of sources: traditional songs, medieval writings, a farmer's almanac, recipes, passages from other authors, and descriptions composed by Roy specifically for the book.
The text for the image offered here was written by Roy, inspired by an announcement of a war veterans' meeting in a local village. It reads in part:
'This morning I saw two lines in the newspaper that made me pause: "The association of war veterans will meet at 8:30 p.m. in the Café de la Paix. Agenda . . ."
'There can be no agenda when the Café de la Paix (the Peace Café) is the meeting place for people who have made war. They have made war---they have made wars. And they did well by it. The war made them (and unmade them).'
After a litany against the insidious evil of all wars, Roy concludes, 'When will the Café de la Paix be willing to say what it means: And when, when will there be peace?'
The text and photograph of the Café de la Paix are then followed by photographs of a church destroyed by war, a graveyard, and war monuments, accompanied by missing-persons ads and French war ballads from several centuries. As Roy writes, 'France, a country in which monuments to the dead are used over and over again, from one massacre to the next . . . When shall we stop learning how to read "Died honorably on the battle field" on the plaque with names?'
The photograph offered here comes originally from the collection of Dr. Erich Frommhold of the Verlag der Kunst, Dresden. For more information, please see Lot 20.
It is believed that there are only four extant prints of this image: aside from the present print, there is a print in an institutional collection, and two prints in private hands.
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