Robert Frank - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Yajima, Montreal
    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    The Americans, no. 10
    Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans, pp. xviii, 290, 478, 479, Contact no. 65
    U.S. Camera [Annual] 1958, p. 91
    Frank, Robert Frank: Story Lines, p. 206

  • Catalogue Essay

    In September of 1954, one month before submitting his Guggenheim Fellowship application, Robert Frank took this image, Rodeo – New York City. In the application, Frank expressed his desire to document American life, or as he wrote in his statement, “The making of a broad, voluminous picture record of things American, past and present.” The fellowship, which he was granted in 1955, later resulted in the landmark publication, The Americans, that included this image along with 82 others.

    Before Frank received the fellowship, and the financial and artistic freedom that it allowed, his style of shooting had a dual focus, both finding the right moment that struck him, and also capturing images that could be used and sold to publications. The present lot, an image of a cowboy at the Rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York City is one from an entire roll of film Frank took at the event. Frank’s natural inclination for decisive shooting is evident in this image, and continued to progress throughout his Guggenheim fellowship.

    Much like Rodeo - Detroit, 1955, also included in The Americans, in Rodeo – New York City, Frank juxtaposes the All-American Cowboy within an urban landscape. In the midst of the bustling city with trucks passing in the street and bystanders on the city stoops behind him, the cowboy naturally props himself against the empty wire trash can—the embodiment of the iconic cowboy in his hat, belt-buckle, and boots at ease with legs crossed, seemingly unphased to be in the heart of New York City.

    The present lot is a significant print of Rodeo – New York City, known to be printed before 1957, a year before The Americans was first released by Delpire, the French publisher, as Les Américains in 1958. This work is not only an iconic example of what Frank envisioned in “of things American, past and present,” but a rare and early printing by the artist.

    Other prints of this of this image are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

  • 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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Rodeo - New York City

Gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1957.
12 1/8 x 7 3/4 in. (30.8 x 19.7 cm)
Signed, titled 'NYC', dated '1955' in ink in the margin; titled 'Rodeo Cowboy Madison Sq. Garden' and annotated 'Return to R. Frank 34 Third Avenue NYC' in ink on the verso.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $87,500

Contact Specialist
Sarah Krueger
Specialist, Head of Sale

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

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New York 4 April 2017