Robert Frank - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Robert Frank's U. S. 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas is the final photograph to appear in The Americans and perfectly encapsulates Frank’s relied-upon motifs of the automobile and the open road to convey his vision of America in the 1950s. It is the only photograph in the book to feature his family. While he largely traveled alone, his wife Mary and children Pablo and Andrea joined him in Houston in November 1955 and traveled with him all the way to Los Angeles, where they rented a house for the winter. The hallmark image captures them parked on the side of the highway between Houston and Del Rio.


    The triptych offered here combines the three sequential frames from the same roll of film: a nearly identical exposure to U.S. 90; a horizontal variant; and a highway sign with two trucks. Its presentation is consistent with Frank’s 1970s exploration into film and offers a glimpse into the mind and process of one of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century. As a documentarian, Frank was constantly straddling the line between content and composition in order to arrive at a final image that was the perfect balance of each. By printing these three photographs in sequence, we are reminded of Frank’s brilliance not only as a photographer but as an editor who culled through thousands of photographs to arrive at the 83 images published in The Americans that figure so prominently in the pantheon of post-war photography.


    Robert Frank’s contact Sheet no. 83 from The Americans (Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans) 
    • Literature

      Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, Contact Sheet 83

    • 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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Mary, Pablo, Andrea, Texas

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
3 x 12 1/2 in. (7.6 x 31.8 cm)
Signed, titled, and dated in ink in the margin.

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 4 April 2023