- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Rebecca Salsbury Strand James, American (1891 - 1968)
- Work Type
- Creation Place: North America, United States
- Physical Descriptions
- Oil on glass
- 24.8 x 19.7 cm (9 3/4 x 7 3/4 in.)
framed: 27.4 x 22.5 x 1.4 cm (10 13/16 x 8 7/8 x 9/16 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- inscription: Inscribed upper left in pencil: 27-RSS-1. Inscribed upper left in pencil: SOR #2361. Inscribed upper center in ink: Paul / Taos 1934 / Rebecca Salsbury James. (Inscriptions listed above area on brown backing paper on verso of work.)
- Private Collector, Colorado. [Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico]; sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1995.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Isabella Grandin Bequest Fund
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 1300 Early Modernism , written 2014
Allied with Alfred Stieglitz and his circle, Paul Strand and Rebecca Salsbury James worked within a nexus of transatlantic social and cultural exchanges. Strand’s “straight” photography aesthetic, including radical viewpoints and abstracted forms, is demonstrated in this close-up portrait of James from the year they married. Likely inspired in part by Stieglitz’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe, the more than one hundred photographs Strand made of James between 1920 and 1932 reflect an intimacy and passion that counter the radical objectivity often associated with his work.
James’s adoption of the reverse oil-on-glass painting technique reflects the importance of vernacular artistic traditions for European and American modernists seeking alternatives to the dominant urban avant-garde. James created this “object portrait”—in which inanimate objects evoke a human personality—shortly after she and Strand divorced. The 8 x 10-inch glass plate, the contrasting geometric forms, including a black circle reminiscent of a camera lens, and the abstracted, minimalist composition of Paul may refer to Strand’s chosen medium while also referencing James’s modernist vocabulary.
- Exhibition History
The Persistence of Memory: Continuity and Change in American Cultures, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/29/1995 - 05/13/2001
32Q: 1300 Early Modernism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 04/29/2015
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