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Robert Frank

Swiss  •  b. 1924

Biography

As one of the leading visionaries of mid-century American photography, Robert Frank has created an indelible body of work, rich in insight and poignant in foresight. In his famed series The Americans, Frank travelled the United States, capturing the parade of characters, hierarchies and imbalances that conveyed his view of the great American social landscape.

Frank broke the mold of what was considered successful documentary photography with his "snapshot aesthetic." It is Frank's portrayal of the United States through grit and grain that once brought his work to the apex of criticism, but has now come to define the art of documentary photography.

Insights

  • In 1957, Robert Frank was the first European to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. His application included written references from both Walker Evans and Edward Steichen

  • The Americans, one of the most significant photobooks in the history of photography, has been released in numerous editions and languages since its initial publication in 1958.

  • Frank is also a filmmaker. His 1959 film Pull My Daisy was written and narrated by Jack Kerouac, and he directed the music video for Patti Smith's 'Summer Cannibals'.

"There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough — there has to be vision, and the two together can make a good photograph."

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