Robert Frank - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gift of the artist to the present owner, 1989

  • Literature

    The Americans, cover, no. 18
    Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans, pp. 6-7, 232, 466, Contact no. 18
    Frank, Robert Frank, pl. 34
    Greenough and Brookman, Robert Frank: Moving Out, pp. 172 (contact sheet) and 196
    Aperture, The Open Road: Photography & The American Road Trip, p. 43
    Dexter and Weski, Cruel and Tender: The Real in the 20th Century Photograph, p. 109
    Galassi, Walker Evans & Company, pl. 137
    Greenough, Snyder, Travis and Westerbeck, On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography, p. 357
    High Museum of Art, Chorus of Light: Photographs from the Sir Elton John Collection, p. 89
    Papageorge, Walker Evans and Robert Frank, An Essay on Influence, p. 41
    U. S. Camera, 1958, pp. 106-107
    'Robert Frank,' Aperture, 1961, p. 9

  • Catalogue Essay

    Robert Frank traveled the United States, capturing the parade of characters, hierarchies and societal imbalances of the great American social landscape. Frank embarked on his project documenting America after becoming the first European to be awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. The application that outlined his intentions for the project included written references from the renowned American photographers Walker Evans and Edward Steichen. Of his 27,000 pictures taken during this time, Frank selected an iconic sequence of 83 images that appears in every edition of his famed book, The Americans.

    One of the most significant photobooks in the history of photography, The Americans has been released in numerous editions and languages since its initial publication in 1958. In 1986, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, sought to acquire 27 prints from this important series for their permanent collection. In order to raise the funds necessary for such a sizable and significant acquisition, The Met's Department of Photographs approached a small group of donors for assistance. Robert Frank, pleased at the prospect of The Met's acquisition, offered, through Pace/MacGill Gallery, three prints from The Americans to be printed as a gift for each donor. The following three lots on offer here come directly from one of the private collectors whose generous support helped make The Met's 1986 Robert Frank acquisition possible.

    Collectively, The Met patrons selected three of Frank's most significant and sought-after images: Trolley, New Orleans, 1955 (lot 268), Chicago-Political Rally, 1956 (lot 269), and US 285, New Mexico, 1956 (lot 270). The Americans’ emblematic cover image, Trolley, New Orleans, 1955 is a photographic masterwork. Frank’s intricate composition captures the realities of segregation in the American South within the trolley’s steely geometric frame. The Swiss-born Frank later remarked on the effect of witnessing the systematic racial injustice in 1950s America: “My attitude changed when I saw the South for the first time. That was the strongest and most unforgettable impression. The injustice to people who have another skin color.”

  • 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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Photographs from a Private Collection, New York


Trolley, New Orleans

Gelatin silver print, printed circa 1986.
6 x 9 1/4 in. (15.2 x 23.5 cm)
Signed, titled and dated in ink in the margin. Accompanied by a signed copy of The Americans (Pantheon Books, 1986).

$120,000 - 180,000 

Contact Specialist
Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

General Enquiries:
+1 212 940 1245


New York 3 October 2017