Looking Back

Anthony Hernandez

May 1, 2016

We asked Anthony Hernandez to tell us about a picture that meant something to him, and why. The exhibition Discarded: Photographs by Anthony Hernandez is on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, through August 7.

It’s interesting, now, to think back to 1973, when I met Paul Strand at his retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He had been one of three artists I admired, besides Edward Weston and Walker Evans. I was in my mid-20s, and I just walked up to him and introduced myself, saying how much I liked his work, especially his early black-and-white New York street photographs. He was very graceful and said to me, “When am I going to see some picture of yours?”

When I think of it now, I don’t need to see a book of those pictures that struck me back in the late Sixties when I first saw them – those tough portraits, so direct and forceful – because they’re in my head. Wall Street is a picture Strand must have been surprised to have made, as a young man, back then in 1915, because it’s so powerful, with those large black windows, huge dark apertures repeating themselves. And at the same time, those small black figures, silhouetted against that raking light. It’s so alive with movement – and a hundred years after it was taken, Wall Street continues to be a picture I think about.

In the early 1990s, I was in New York and saw a show of Strand’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I remember seeing Wall Street again, but this time, in four versions – four different platinum prints, each with a different patina, each one beautiful, each one just as good as the next. That Paul Strand could give us these subtle variations in the printing of that iconic image – what a picture!