Robert Frank - Photographs New York Wednesday, April 6, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "My photographs are not planned or composed in advance and I do not anticipate that the on-looker will share my viewpoint. However, I feel that if my photograph leaves an image on his mind—something has been achieved."
    —Robert Frank

    The Americans, first American edition, 1959

    In the mid-1950s Robert Frank, funded by a succession of modest Guggenheim Fellowships, traversed the country on a series of photographic expeditions that would culminate in his seminal book, The Americans. The book’s present high status in the pantheon of photographic literature, and in the pantheon of photographic achievement, was not anticipated by its reception when published in late 1959. Reviews were resoundingly negative, and the true scope of Frank’s project was unappreciated by many in the photographic establishment. He did have several significant champions, however, one of whom was Walker Evans. Before the publication of Frank’s book, Evans introduced his images to many Americans in the pages of the 1958 U.S. Camera Annual with the following words: 'Assuredly the gods who sent Robert Frank, so heavily armed, across the United States of America did so with a certain smile . . . That Frank has responded to America with many tears, some hope, and his own brand of fascination, you can see in looking over. . . his pictures of people, of roadside landscapes and urban cauldrons.'


    Walker Evans’s introduction to Robert Frank’s photographs in U.S. Camera Annual, 1958

    Evans was both Frank’s progenitor and a mentor, having served as a reference for the younger photographer’s Guggenheim Fellowship applications. Frank’s work was a continuation of the style of personal documentary photography that Evans had initiated in the 1930s. Political Rally – Chicago, with its focus on a distinctly American scene and its composition in which the figures are simultaneously isolated yet interdependent, shows Evans’s influence while retaining the clear stamp of Frank’s authorship.


    Evergreen Review, Vol. 4, No. 15, November-December 1960
    • Provenance

      Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York, 2005

    • Literature

      The Americans, no. 58
      Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, pp. 281 and 476, Contact Sheet #58
      Greenough and Brookman, Robert Frank: Moving Out, p. 180
      Tucker and Brookman, Robert Frank: New York to Nova Scotia, p. 33
      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
      Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye, p. 152
      Szarkowski, Looking at Photographs, p. 177
      Pageant, 'A Pageant Portfolio: One Man's U.S.A., Photographs by Robert Frank,' April 1958, p. 27
      Evergreen Review, November-December 1960, cover

    • 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


Political Rally – Chicago

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
11 1/4 x 7 1/4 in. (28.6 x 18.4 cm)
Signed and dated in ink in the margin; signed and dated in ink within a copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp, 'Robert Frank Archive' stamp and annotated in an unidentified hand in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$60,000 - 80,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 6 April 2022