Robert Frank Essay On Influence

Robert Frank Essay On Influence-41
What did Robert Frank learn from The Americans that we've overlooked?In 1972 he published another book, The Lines of My Hand, [2] a visual autobiography.

What did Robert Frank learn from The Americans that we've overlooked?In 1972 he published another book, The Lines of My Hand, [2] a visual autobiography.

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The Lines projected an amazing objective clarity, even in the use of snapshots, which seemed at odds with the distance and impenetrable silence of The Americans.

The same sense can also be derived from Frank's films, which show a precise editing ability unlike the apparently random selection of photographs in The Americans. The different reactions to the book, both by critics and photographers, attest to a irresolvable ambiguity in its meaning.

[5] But a look at the overall plan of me book reveals it to be more like a perverse parody of Edward Steichen's 1955 catalogue for the exhibition, "The Family of Man." It covers the same range of topics but from an altered viewpoint that reverses the implicit argument that the political system proceeds from the individual.

And there are clear parallels -- the introduction by Jack Kerouac, for example, which mocks Carl Sandburg's introduction to The Family of Man. There would be a remarkable efficiency in such a project, for a parody of The Family of Man would critique both the implicit purpose of Steichen's exhibit -- to sell the American way of life -- and the explicit assumption that this could be done photographically -- that photography comprises a universal language.

These two threads, clarity ad certainty, which become so apparent in Frank's later work, can also be found in The Americans. They argue for a cohesiveness of form, a accountability for every detail, and a message.

* * * Most striking about The Americans is me amalgam of public and private which in combination raises the effectiveness of both.By me mid-1960s Robert Frank was as well known among filmmakers as among photographers; by then photography had changed also, and photographers pointed to The Americans a one of the major sources for the changes.While those changes led photography into the ever-broadening fields of surrealism and formalism, Robert Frank limited his photographs to the personal and the private.Eventually published in Spanish as "Robert Frank y La Fotografia," in the catalogue, "Robert Frank, Fotografias/Films 1948/1984" (Salla Parpallo, Valencia, Spain, March 1985).Reprinted in English after additional editing and with added notes, as "Robert Frank: Dissecting the American Image" in Exposure quarterly, Spring 1986 (this text).It has meant searching out other Frank fanatics, engaging in endless and at times pointless discussions and arguments, and planning forays into literature and foreign languages.Today I think I know exactly what The Americans means, but whenever I try to explain I get lost among the facts, details, hints, and significant quotations.[3] In fact it was both, and much more, because Frank brought to a close photography's quest for the decisive moment -- the ever more decisive moment which had been defined in terms of the perishable and publishable moment which was easily recognized and quickly read by the public.In The Americans, America stood still, frozen into a frightful pose between moments.And a critique because any return to the vernacular implicates the established style of photography in a falsification of the real world."You can photograph anything now," Robert Frank said in 1961.


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