Robert Frank - Photographs New York Monday, July 13, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    LIGHT, New York
    Collection of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons
    Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, New York, The Seagram Collection of Photographs, 25 April 2003, lot 39
    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, 2003

  • Exhibited

    Corporate Collections, Catskill Center for Photography, Woodstock, New York, 26 April - 27 May 1986

  • Literature

    The Americans, no. 26
    Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, pp. 240, 468, Contact no. 26
    Frank, The Lines of My Hand, p. 83
    'Robert Frank: The Lines of My Hand,' U.S. Camera/Camera 35 Annual, 1972, n.p.
    Aperture, Robert Frank, p. 29
    Aperture, Robert Frank: The Aperture History of Photography, Vol. 2, p. 39
    Galassi, Robert Frank: In America, p. 84
    Greenough and Brookman, Robert Frank: Moving Out, p. 188
    Papageorge, Walker Evans and Robert Frank: An Essay on Influence, p. 13
    Szarkowski, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960, p. 17
    Aperture, The Open Road: Photography & The American Road Trip, p. 48
    Davis, An American Century of Photography: from Dry-Plate to Digital: The Hallmark Photographic Collection, pl. 301

  • Catalogue Essay

    “To Robert Frank I now give this message: You got eyes.” – Jack Kerouac

    Robert Frank drove into Butte, Montana in May of 1956, after receiving word of the renewal of the Guggenheim Fellowship funding his project to create a photographic document of America. He traveled from San Francisco through Nevada and Utah, making photographs in each state that would be included in his final selection of images for The Americans, before heading north to Montana. Butte was, in its own way, a classic western town, home to one of the largest mineral mining operations in the world and with a rough and rowdy reputation. While Frank may have had hopes of photographing mining operations in the area, as he had covered the automobile industry in Detroit, what ultimately inspired him were scenes that fell outside the industrial life of the town: a table game in a luncheonette; a woman and her children in their car; and the photograph offered here, taken from the window of the Hotel Finlen which captures the rooftops of the town in mid-light. In his free-form introduction to The Americans, Jack Kerouac wrote that Frank ‘sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world. To Robert Frank I now give this message: You got eyes' – an observation which resonates strongly with this image.

    This photograph was for years in the celebrated collection of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, one of the first corporations to start a collection of photographs. Under the auspices of Phyllis Lambert, the collection was initiated in 1972 by legendary curator Pierre Apraxine who drew together works that addressed the urban experience. In 1974, Richard Pare took over the curatorial reigns, continuing Apraxine’s focus on superb images of exceptional print quality. The Seagram Collection of photographs was sold at Phillips in 2002, comprising a highly successful two-day auction that presented the collection in-full for the first time.

  • 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


View from hotel window – Butte, Montana

Gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1973.
8 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (21.6 x 31.8 cm)
Signed, titled and dated '1954' and '1973' in ink on the verso; accompanied by Joseph E. Seagram & Sons collection labels.

$65,000 - 85,000 

Sold for $75,000

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

+212 940 1245


New York Auction 13 July 2020