Robert Frank - Photographs New York Monday, March 31, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Ehlers Caudill Gallery, Chicago

  • Literature

    Scalo, The Americans: Photographs by Robert Frank, p. 167
    Aperture, Robert Frank, frontispiece
    Gee, Photography of the Fifties, cover and p. 156
    Green, American Photography, A Critical History, 1945 to the Present, p. 79
    Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, pp. 281 and 476, Contact Sheet #58
    Scalo, Robert Frank: Moving Out, p. 180
    Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye, p. 152
    Szarkowski, Looking at Photographs, p. 177
    Wilkes Tucker and Brookman, Robert Frank: New York to Nova Scotia, p. 33
    Pageant, 'A Pageant Portfolio: One Man's U. S. A., Photographs by Robert Frank,' April 1958, p. 27
    Evergreen Review, November-December 1960, cover

  • Catalogue Essay

    After settling in New York in 1951, Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank was awarded two consecutive Guggenheim Fellowships, in 1954 and 1955, to explore the different socio-cultural patches from which the great American quilt was comprised. Frank’s wish was to reveal “the kind of civilization born here and spreading elsewhere,” as he expressed in his application. Over a period of 9 months, 30 states, 767 rolls of film and 10,000 miles, Frank carefully combed the United States. Despite his foreign status, it was not the tourist-baits of readymade American Pop-Culture icons that lured the young photographer. Rather, Frank was drawn to the characters, hierarchies and injustices hidden from mainstream American media. The result was Frank’s most celebrated body of work, The Americans, a series of 82 images whose relevance and impact has rippled ever since.

    In the current lot, Frank depicted a musician, presumably a member of a marching band summoned to generate a lively energy to an otherwise staid event. The angle from which Frank photographed the man situates the opening of the tuba in front of his face. By doing so Frank not only accentuated the anonymous nature of the rally participant, but replaced his face with an inanimate object known for its deep and at times deafening powers. The nature of politics, Frank astutely observed, at times drowns the individual voice in favor of a loud rallying call. Chicago-Political Rally, is a wry but insightful take on the dynamic of American politics, injecting a dose of irony into a scene of purported harmony.

  • 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


Chicago-Political Rally

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
11 3/8 x 7 1/4 in. (28.9 x 18.4 cm)
Signed, titled 'Chicago' and dated in ink in the margin.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $87,500

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