Robert Frank - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • When Robert Frank began his road trip across the United States in 1955, national patriotism was pulsing through the veins of communities from coast to coast. Just 10 years out from the end of World War II, with the hardships of the war years still fresh in people's minds, citizens displayed their American pride in offices, parades and public celebrations.


    It is thus no surprise that the American flag is a recurring motif throughout The Americans, appearing in numerous images including ParadeHoboken, New Jersey, the first plate in Frank's seminal 1958 publication. Taken during the city's bicentennial celebration, the photograph shows two figures watching the festivities from their windows as the flag hangs from the building façade between them.


    Each of the 83 carefully selected images in The Americans highlights Frank's astute eye and deft skill for balancing perfect photographic composition with a sensitivity to the complexity of American society. But as a Swiss-born photographer who never shied away from documenting the underlying racial tension he witnessed, his work was initially misunderstood and its nuance overlooked. Of these images he wrote, 'I have been frequently accused of deliberately twisting subject matter to my point of view. Above all, I know that life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference. Opinion often consists of a kind of criticism. But criticism can come out of love’ (U. S. Camera Annual, 1958).

    • Provenance

      Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, 1997

    • Literature

      The Americans, no. 1
      Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, pp. 211, 460, Contact no. 1
      Frank, The Lines of My Hand, n.p.
      Frank, Storylines, frontispiece 3
      Aperture, Robert Frank, cover
      Galassi, Robert Frank: In America, p. 107
      Greenough and Brookman, Robert Frank: Moving Out, pp. 111, 175
      Galassi, Walker Evans & Company, pl. 316
      Szarkowski, Photography Until Now, p. 258
      Campany, The Open Road: Photography & The American Road, p. 45
      Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye, p. 155

    • 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


Parade - Hoboken, New Jersey

Gelatin silver print, printed 1973.
8 1/2 x 13 in. (21.6 x 33 cm)
Signed, dated '1955' and '1973,' and annotated 'The Americans' in ink in the margin.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023