Robert Frank - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    Aperture, The Americans, 1969, pl. 82 for a variant cropping; Delpire, Les Américains, 1968, pl. 82; Grove Press, The Americans, 1968, pl. 82; National Gallery of Art, Washington/ Steidl, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, 2009, p. 309, pl. 82; Pantheon, The Americans, 1986, pl. 82 for a variant cropping; Scalo/DAP, The Americans, 1995 pl. 82 for a variant cropping; Steidl, The Americans, 1998 pl. 82 for a variant cropping

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1954 Robert Frank settled in New York, determined to build a career as a photographer. After being granted the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1955, Frank embarked on a nine months-long journey across the United States, during which he utilized his émigré-sensibility and astute observation to peruse, scrutinize, and cull instances from within the great American social landscape of the 1950s. His intention was to create a photographic specimen display case in which the formerly unseen moments would be extricated and laid out for close examination by the public. Repudiating the utopian, conformist, and repressed socio-cultural zeitgeist of that era, Frank chose to
    focus on those instances that delineated the suppressed, marginalized, and as seen in Indianapolis, 1955, the unseen.

    That year marked a landmark for the African American community when, on December 1st, bus passenger Rosa Parks refused an order to relinquish her seat for a white passenger and move to the back of the bus. Her subsequent incarceration instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott and turned Parks into an emblem of the nascent Civil Rights Movement. The mission of the movement was to terminate all forms of racial segregation and discrimination, gradually leading to the eventual crumbling of the racist scaffolding that had been upholding the American social structure.

    Indianapolis, 1955, presents an alternate view to the ongoing racial struggle at the time. An African American couple is seen dressed in tight denim and riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, instantly offering a revised notion of that which constituted the All-American. The couple appear poised, spirited and debonair, their confidence boosted by their riding the quintessential vehicle of cool, with the absence of doors or windows providing full visibility and intrepidity. They occupy the front and the back, acting as driver and passenger, controlling their own direction and subsequently foregoing reliance on, or subservience to any governmentally-owned mode of transportation. It is an image of the strength and equality that Frank had envisioned for the future of the United States.

  • Artist Biography

    Robert Frank

    Swiss • 1924

    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.

    View More Works



Gelatin silver print, printed 1960s.
11 3/4 x 18 5/8 in. (29.8 x 47.3 cm).
Signed, titled and dated in ink in the margin.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $62,500


4 October 2011
New York