Robert Frank - an influential photographer - turns 90!

Tomorrow Robert Frank turns 90 years old. Robert Frank is one of the most influent photographers of the world. His best known work is published in the book The Americans.
For six months he did fashion photography for Harper's Bazaar, collaborating with Alexey Brodovitch, the legendary art director of the American magazine in 1947. In the early fifties he worked as freelance photojournalist for Vogue and McCall's.

The Americans is first published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life.
And it was not just Frank's subject matter: cars, jukeboxes and even the road itself that redefined the icons of America; it was also his seemingly intuitive, immediate, off-kilter style, as well as his method of brilliantly linking his photographs together thematically, conceptually, formally and linguistically, that made The Americans so innovative.
More of an ode or a poem than a literal document, the book is as powerful and provocative today as it was 56 years ago.

About the photographer

Robert Frank was born in Zurich in 1924, November 9. He began his career in photography in the mid-1940s before emigrating to America in 1947. There his bold photographs brought him to the attention of the legendary art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Alexey Brodovich, and Frank was hired as a roving fashion photographer. The job allowed Frank to travel back and forth to Europe where he produced two significant bodies of work, one his Paris pictures and the other photographs of England and Wales. These pictures were an essential forerunner to Frank’s American work as well as significant works in their own right.

As an immigrant, Frank was fascinated by America and after his first travels around the country he applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship which he was awarded in 1955. He then embarked on a two year trip across America during which he took over 28,000 photographs. Eighty-three of the images were subsequently published in the book "The Americans" - generally acknowledged to be one of the greatest photography books ever published.

What Frank brought to the medium was an improvisational quality coupled with a subjectively original but objective point of view. He saw the world in a way that was at odds with commonly perceived visual clichés of his time but which was certainly more truthful. While the darkness and idiosyncratic nature of much of his vision at first shocked many people – it became the template for much of what was to follow in photography.

By the 1960s Frank had largely turned his attention to film not returning to still photography until the 1970s,  at which point his work became much more autobiographical, combining text, multiple frames, and deliberately scratched images. Today F rank lives and works quietly in New York and Nova Scotia while interest in his work flourishes. But his interest in photography has gone, read the article in the guardian in honour of his 90's birthday.

Source: Danziger Gallery - Amazon
Robert Frank - an influential photographer - turns 90! Robert Frank - an influential photographer - turns 90! Reviewed by Patricia Munster on 7:11:00 AM Rating: 5


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