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  • Provenance

    Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

  • Literature

    National Gallery of Art, Washington, Robert Frank: Moving Out, p. 81
    Pantheon Books, The Lines of My Hand, n.p.
    Photo Poche, Robert Frank, pl. 29
    Scalo, HOLD STILL_keep going, p. 19
    Scalo, Robert Frank: London/Wales, p. 15
    Cambridge, A History of Photography, p. 193

  • Catalogue Essay

    “It is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph.”
    -Robert Frank

    This unforgettable image of a child seemingly running out and away from an open- door hearse shows us very little about what can be seen in the world. Instead, this indelible image shoots inward – like a rocket to the heart – releasing a wellspring of personal identification with the possibility of freedom. Taken by Robert Frank, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th Century, London, is a post-war existential masterpiece.

    Born in Switzerland in 1924, Frank grew up Zurich as one of two sons in a middle class Jewish family. Even though he was in neutral Switzerland, he still came of age during the war years and it was a tumultuous time. Frank, in speaking of his childhood, has been quoted as saying, ‘‘I was driven by negative influence. I wanted to get away.’’ Photography provided him with the opportunity. Rather than joining the family business, as he was encouraged to do, Frank apprenticed with commercial photographers learning both the precision and technique of his trade. Once the war was over, the gates of the world opened, and Frank took flight.

    After a brief period in Paris, Frank landed in New York. It was love at first sight: the diversity and seemingly freedom the city offered captivated Frank. He got a job with Alexey Brodovitch as a photographer for Harper's Bazaar being well paid at $25 per picture for a column on shopping. But Robert Frank needed to make his own pictures and periodically took off to places like Peru, Paris, London and Wales in search of “some moment I couldn’t explain.” London, 1951 was taken on one such excursion. In this photograph, the universal child running down a stone path into a misty unknown could be Frank himself escaping the confines of what others thought he should be doing in both photography and in life.

    Four years after he took the image being offered, Frank was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to photograph the country he chose to be his home. Frank’s fierce and poignant images of America were published as The Americans in 1959. While this London image predates those infamous images, it too is in our public consciousness as one of Robert Frank’s greatest photographs. For time after time this mysterious image has conjured up in multitudes of viewers, as it did with Frank the instant he took it, a flash of emotional recognition as we witness our selves released from confinement.

    Another print of this image is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

  • 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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Gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1973.
8 7/8 x 13 1/2 in. (22.5 x 34.3 cm)
Signed, titled and dated in ink in the margin.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $52,500

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Worldwide Head, Photographs

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Innovators of Photography: A Private East Coast Collection

New York Auction 8 October 2015