Friday, August 14, 2009

Robert Frank's The Americans

Robert Frank's seminal photography portfolio entitled The Americans was first published in France in 1958 and in the United States in 1959. The Americans is widely celebrated as the most important photography book since World War II. The photographs were captured between the years 1955 and 1956 while Frank (b. 1924) traveled around the United States. The book is extremely reflective of the beat undercurrent in America. The photographs contained in the volume looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a profound sense of alienation, angst, and loneliness. With these prophetic photographs, Frank redefined the icons of America, noting that cars, jukeboxes, gas stations, diners, and even the road itself were telling symbols of contemporary life. Frank's style—seemingly loose, casual compositions, with often rough, blurred, out-of-focus foregrounds and tilted horizons—was just as controversial and influential as his subject matter. Frank's The Americans extremely profound impacted on me when I first fell upon it in the early 90's. The work haunts/inspires me....
"When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice." Robert Frank, LIFE (26 November 1951)
"Quality doesn't mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That's not quality, that's a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy - the tone range isn't right and things like that - but they're far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he's doing, what his mind is. It's not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It's got to do with intention." (Elliott Erwitt)

1 comment:

Dave said...

Until August 23rd, there is an excellent exhibition at the SFMOMA in San Francisco called 'Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans"'

Very inspiring stuff.