Robert Frank - Photographs New York Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    National Gallery of Art, Washington/Steidl, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, p. 103 there titled and dated Tulip/Paris, 1950; National Gallery of Art, Washington/Scalo, Black White and Things, pl. 21; Pantheon Books, Robert Frank: The Lines of My Hand, n.p. there titled January 1st

  • Catalogue Essay

    Shortly after their marriage in 1949, Robert Frank and Mary Lockspeiser spent 10 months in Paris, during which the aspiring photographer documented everyday moments, people and scenes. Perhaps inspired by André Kertész’s book Day of Paris, 1945, which celebrated the charm in the small, unassuming post-World War II Parisian lifestyle, Frank assembled the preliminary layout for Mary's Book, an unpublished book comprised of 74 photographs reflective of their experience following their Parisian trends. The book is devoid of any stereotypically Parisian images as Frank turned his lens to commemorate understated moments that might have otherwise been overlooked. Namely, a lonesome streetlamp; cropped billboards; a blind street musician; and a substantial number of empty chairs strewn outdoors, which attest to recent human activity. Mary's Book was not meant to be a didactic tour of Paris, but an intimate journal of impressions shared with his beloved wife. Paris New Year (Young Man with Tulip), was taken during that time.

    Following his endeavors on Mary's Book, Frank met Edward Steichen, by whom he was deeply influenced. At the time, Steichen as Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, was deeply involved with The Family of Man exhibition, paying homage to universal commonalities over individual differences. The motive had a strong impact on Frank, who was encouraged to expose and infuse the “feel and atmosphere of his subjects” in his photographs. The result was Frank’s fourth book: Black White and Things. The book discussed “somber people and black events, quiet people and peaceful places, and the things people have come in contact with.” In that regard, Frank, too, looked for overarching themes, although his message was free of the charged sentimentality and heavy-handedness that typified Steichen’s exhibition. The images chosen for the book had all been taken between 1947 and 1952. Paris New Year (Young Man with Tulip), was in the “Things” section alongside images of a statue,
    religious medals, Christ on a cross, a balloon from a Macy’s parade, and a doll in a plastic bag. In doing so, Frank commented on people’s faith—in love, religion, art and commerce. The image is subtle in its irony, gentle in its romance, and poignant in its message.

  • 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.

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Paris New Year (Young Man with Tulip)

Gelatin silver print, printed 1970s.
13 1/8 x 8 3/8 in. (33.3 x 21.3 cm).
Signed, titled 'Paris' and dated '1950-51' in ink in the margin.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $104,500


9 April 2011
New York