In March 1949, Robert Frank mailed a birthday gift to his mother in Switzerland: A maquette of a series of photographs he had made during a visit to Peru between June and December of the previous year. Frank assembled an identical book for himself, and these two maquettes now reside in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. A few of the images are well known in Frank's oeuvre, but until now very few people have seen the entire series--which, in 1949, already displayed the hallmark of Frank's distinctive image-sequencing. Peru also exhibits an ease and flexibility that Frank himself confirms: "I was very free with the camera. I didn't think of what would be the correct thing to do; I did what I felt good doing. I was like an action painter." Using a hand-held 35mm Leica camera, Frank documented the country's massive vistas, weathered faces, manual labor and dusty roads stretching to the horizon with a spontaneity of motion that propels the viewer into the midst of the scenery. For the first time, and under the direction of Frank himself, this book presents the complete sequence of images. Peru is a work of major significance in both the artist's history and the history of photography. Published in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Published by Steidl. Introduction by Jerry Tallmer. Text by Jack Kerouac.
First take best take, to paraphrase Allen Ginsberg, was for years the ethos presumed to have governed the making of Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie's classic Beat Generation film Pull My Daisy (1959)--until Leslie revealed in 1968 that its scenes had been as scripted and rehearsed as any Hollywood movie. Even Jack Kerouac's famous voiceover narration, which careens wonderfully in and out of sync with the action, was actually composed in advance, performed four times and then mixed from three separate takes. But the film remains a supreme document of Beat Generation energy at its peak, with several of its key players starring: Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Larry Rivers, Peter Orlovsky, David Amram, Richard Bellamy, Alice Neel, Sally Gross and Pablo Frank (Robert Frank's then-infant son). Based on an incident in the life of Beat muse Neal Cassady and his wife Carolyn, Daisy tells the story of a railway brakeman whose painter wife has invited a respectable bishop over for dinner at their Bowery apartment. The brakeman's "Beatnik" friends crash the occasion, and the playful provocations ("Is baseball holy?") they put to the bishop ("Strange thoughts you young people have!") baffle the clergyman's propriety and expectation of a "civilized" evening. This book interweaves the script of Kerouac's narration with film stills, and also includes a 1961 introduction by Jerry Tallmer.
The significance of Robert Frank’s photography is unquestionable. His The Americans is arguably the most important American photography publication of the postwar period, and his work has spawned numerous disciples, as well as a rich critical literature. It is less known that at the very moment he became a star—the end of the 1950s—Frank chose to abandon still photography for more than ten years in order to immerse himself in filmmaking. He did return to photography in the 1970s, but Frank the filmmaker has remained a well-kept secret for almost four decades. A compilation examining his missing years is long overdue. Film Works includes four DVDs in PAL and NTSC format, and comes with the book Frank Films (edited by Brigitta Burger-Utzer and Stefan Grissemann)—offering a visually unique approach to Frank’s films—and the booklets Me & My Brother and Pull My Daisy, all packaged in a custom-made wooden case. This elaborate object provides a comprehensive overview of more than 25 films and videos, some of them classics of the New American Cinema of the 1950s and 1960s.
Digital Mastering by Assemblage Inc./Laura Israel.
Robert Frank was born in Zurich in 1924 and immigrated to the United States in 1947. He is best known for his seminal book The Americans, first published in 1958, which gave rise to a distinctly new form of the photobook, and his experimental film Pull My Daisy (1959). Frank’s other important projects include the books Black, White and Things (1952), The Lines of My Hand (1972) and the film Cocksucker Blues for the Rolling Stones (1972). He divides his time between New York City and Nova Scotia, Canada.
Published by Steidl. Introduction by Jack Kerouac.
First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life. And it was not just Frank's subject matter--cars, jukeboxes and even the road itself—that redefined the icons of America; it was also his seemingly intuitive, immediate, off-kilter style, as well as his method of brilliantly linking his photographs together thematically, conceptually, formally and linguistically, that made The Americans so innovative. More of an ode or a poem than a literal document, the book is as powerful and provocative today as it was 56 years ago.
Published by National Gallery Of Art, Washington/Steidl. Edited with text by Sarah Greenough. Text by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Stuart Alexander, Martin Gasser, Jeff Rosenheim, Michel Frizot, Luc Sante, Philip Brookman.
First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans" celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of this prescient book. Drawing on newly examined archival sources, it provides a fascinating in-depth examination of the making of the photographs and the book's construction, using vintage contact sheets, work prints and letters that literally chart Frank's journey around the country on a Guggenheim grant in 1955–56. Curator and editor Sarah Greenough and her colleagues also explore the roots of The Americans in Frank's earlier books, which are abundantly illustrated here, and in books by photographers Walker Evans, Bill Brandt and others. The 83 original photographs from The Americans are presented in sequence in as near vintage prints as possible. The catalogue concludes with an examination of Frank's later reinterpretations and deconstructions of The Americans, bringing full circle the history of this resounding entry in the annals of photography. This volume is a reprint of the 2009 edition.
Tal Uf Tal Ab shows Robert Frank's life now, an inquisitive existence shaped by memory, and includes photographs of newsstands, streetscapes, friends, his wife June Leaf, interiors, as well as a self-portrait. Scattered among these images are earlier ones from Frank's past, for example a candid portrait of Jack Kerouac. As with all Frank's publications, Tal Uf Tal Ab is a humble yet important progression in the medium of the photo book.
In 1950, Robert Frank left his job as a photographer in New York to travel through Europe with his family. That summer he arrived in Valencia, Spain, which was at the time a humble, bleak place enduring the austere conditions of the postwar period like the rest of the country. The pictures Frank took of Valencia depict the daily life of a fishing village. His portrayal is so natural and clear that further verbal explanation seems superfluous; they simply reflect, in the photo grapher's words, "the humanity of the moment." The photographs in this book, many of which have never been published before, allow dignity to override poverty.
Published by Steidl. Edited with text by Peter Galassi.
Because of the importance of Robert Frank's The Americans; because he turned to filmmaking in 1959, the same year the book appeared in the United States; and because he made very different kinds of pictures when he returned to still photography in the 1970s, most of Frank's American work of the 1950s is poorly known. This book, based on the important Frank collection at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, is the first to focus on that work. Its careful sequence of 131 plates integrates 22 photographs from The Americans with more than 100 unknown or unfamiliar images to chart the major themes and pictorial strategies of Frank's work in the United States in the 1950s. Peter Galassi's text presents a thorough reconsideration of Frank's first photographic career and examines in detail how he used the full range of photography's vital 35mm vocabulary to reclaim the medium's artistic tradition from the hegemony of the magazines.
Published by Steidl. Text by Robert Frank, Ayumi Yamazaki.
Yet another superb volume in the photographer’s popular series of visual diaries, What We Have Seen is all about people and places in the long and convivial life of Robert Frank (born 1924). Opening and closing with the zoom on the dial of a clock tower, serving as a reminder of the silent but constant passage of time, the book is laden with memories and pictures of old photographs. Like a leitmotif carrying us through the images, the word "souvenir" pops up under a magnifying glass positioned on a French text as a reading device. Frank’s house in Mabou is once again portrayed as a popular retreat for people such as Jack Kerouac, Gerhard Steidl, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Frank’s family members. As ever, Frank’s visual diaries constitute an important part of both his later work and developments in the ongoing art of the photobook.
In Partida, Robert Frank continues the journey through his archives, presenting us with a new series of images of friends, colleagues, interiors, of quiet still lives and snap shots of both ordinary and unexpected objects and situations. Frank's visual diaries constitute an important part of both his later work and the ongoing art of the photo book.
In August 1992 Robert Frank's good friend Reginald Rankin invited Frank on a trip to Pangnirtung, a village of around 1,300 Inuit inhabitants in the Arctic Circle. This book is Frank's documentation of the five-day sojourn. Frank depicts Pangnirtung void of its people: the still harbor, public housing, a convenience store, a telephone post. Sincere without being sentimental, the photos are shaped by a short text from Frank himself.
Household Inventory Record is a new installment in the series of Robert Frank's recent visual diaries. Composed of Polaroids, this slim volume continues the journey into Frank's world and his imagery, showing us snapshots from his travels, of his friends and everyday curiosities.
You Would is a sequel to Robert Frank's acclaimed Tal Uf Tal Ab of 2010. It contains recent images--some shot on 35 mm, others Polaroids--of Frank's friends, acquaintances and surroundings in New York and Mabou, Nova Scotia. In the book are also iconic images from earlier in Frank's career such as a photo of Delphine Seyrig and Larry Rivers on the set of Frank's 1959 film Pull My Daisy. This careful edit of new and old suggests that past experience tempers Frank's present, and shows that his life is not only recorded by book-making but shaped by it.
The female subject absorbed in a book has prompted masterworks from Vermeer, Monet, Vuillard and Matisse, among many others. Less often portrayed are men in the act of reading--even Manet’s portrait of Émile Zola depicts the writer staring away from his open volume. Is it the supposed passivity of this act that has discouraged men from modeling it? This mini-genre remains even less explored yet by photographers, though it surely offers the supreme opportunity for coaxing subjects of either sex into unself-consciousness, if not outright reverie. In Zero Mostel Reads a Book, Robert Frank takes a male comic actor for his subject but flouts the genre’s quietist sobriety in every way possible. Mostel is depicted in cartoonish dimensions, bemused, baffled and apoplectic, as he makes his way through an unidentified hardback volume, while seated at a table or on a sofa in a large lounge area. First published in 1963 by The New York Times “for the fun of it” and a collector’s item ever since, this lovely publication relates a series of theatrical and playful vignettes in which Mostel’s most famous roles--Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Max Bialystock in The Producers--are clearly signaled. It is a delightful moment of slapstick in the Frank oeuvre.
Published by Steidl. Edited by Robert Frank, Ute Eskildsen.
The publication of Paris marks the first time that the significant body of photographs which Robert Frank made in Paris in the early 1950s have been brought together in a single book. Having left Switzerland in 1924, this 1951 trip to France was only Frank's second return to Europe after he had settled in New York City in 1947, and some of the images he made during that visit have become iconic in the history of the medium. The 80 photographs reproduced here, which were selected by Frank and editor Ute Eskildsen, suggest that Frank's experience of the "new world" had sharpened his eye for European urbanism. He saw the city's streets as a stage for human activity and focused particularly on the flower sellers. His work clearly references Atget and invokes the tradition of the flaneur.
Following its acclaimed predecessors Tal Uf Tal Ab (2010) and You Would (2012), Park / Sleep is the third in the series of Robert Frank's late visual diaries. It takes up his familiar collage technique, combining new and old snapshots mainly of Frank's friends, family and home/studio, but also scenic and urban settings and interiors. The images are accompanied by short texts--notes, pieces of conversations, poems and thoughts.
Published by Steidl. Essays by Philip Brookman, Robert Coles and Anne Wilkes Tucker. Introduction by Peter C. Marzio.
Ephemera captures our curiosity. Through it, we get a glimpse into the personalities, personal moments and ponderings, and sentiments of beloved public figures. Presented here are many such glimpses, along with several longer looks, into the life of legendary photographer, Robert Frank. New York to Nova Scotia was originally published in 1986 to accompany a retrospective exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and has long been out of print. The book is the best source for much of the most absorbing material on the great artist: there are letters from a young Robert Frank to his parents telling them of New York, there is a facsimile of his 1954 proposal (considered a landmark document in the history of photography) to the Guggenheim Foundation that started his legendary journey across America, a letter from an Arkansas State policeman who arrested Frank during his trip to produce the photographs in his masterpiece, The Americans, as well with such other items like an account by Jack Kerouac about the trip he made with Robert Frank to Florida. The theme of this account is the now-classic one of a modern artist's restless peregrinations--travel as a physical and spiritual journey, as search and as self-discovery. The chronology and personal spirit of Frank's complex career as a photographer and filmmaker are evoked through these previously unpublished letters, pictures, reviews and essays, as well as through 18 of his classic photographs. Some of the letters are by Frank; others were written by photographers and contemporaries, such as W. Eugene Smith, Louis Faurer, Keith Smith and Gotthard Schuh, and by legendary curators Hugh Edwards and Robert Delpire. (Frank's writings reveal his lesser-known talents as a literary artist.) Authors of the essays include Walker Evans, Jonas Mekas, Allen Ginsberg and Robert Coles, as well as the exhibition curators, Philip Brookman and Anne Tucker. New York to Nova Scotia also includes still images from Frank's films and pictures of Frank throughout his career.
In November of 1991 Robert Frank went to Beirut on a commission to photograph the city's devastated downtown in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990). Much of the work he did there, together with that of five other photographers with whom he shared the assignment, was put together in Beirut City Centre by Editions du Cypres in 1992. Alongside that commissioned work, he also made Polaroids of the city and its environs, which, on his return home, he stowed away in his studio. It was only many years later that he considered those images again, and used them to create a sketchbook's worth of Polaroid collages. Come Again is a facsimile reprint of that notebook. In recent years Frank has worked almost exclusively with Polaroids, exploring the collage and assemblage possibilities of the instant photograph. Come Again, which comes as a sewn softcover in a paper bag, printed with special four-color matt inks and a Polaroid varnish, offers insight into the early stages of Frank's experimentation with the Polaroid and presents a previously unseen artist's book.
Published by Steidl. Contributions by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, John Cohen.
Pull My Daisy is a collectable object containing Robert Frank's famous film of 1959 on DVD; a text booklet with an introduction, the transcript of the film and lyrics to the opening song; and a photo-magazine of on-set documentary photos by John Cohen. Pull My Daisy typifies the Beat Generation. Directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, the film was adapted by Jack Kerouac from the third act of a stage play he never finished entitled Beat Generation. Kerouac also provided improvised narration. It stars Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Larry Rivers, Peter Orlovsky, David Amram, Richard Bellamy, Alice Neel, Sally Gross and Pablo, Frank's then infant son. Based on an incident in the life of Neal Cassady and his wife Carolyn, the movie tells the story of a railway brakeman whose painter wife invites a respectable bishop over for dinner. However, the brakeman's bohemian friends crash the party, with comic results. Pull My Daisy was praised for years as an improvisational masterpiece, until Leslie revealed in 1968 that the film was actually carefully planned, rehearsed, and directed by him and Frank.
Published by Steidl/The Robert Frank Project. Edited by Ute Eskildsen. Text by Ute Eskildsen, Christoph Ribbat, Wolfgang Beilenhoff. Interview by Ute Eskildsen.
Originally published to coincide with Robert Frank's exhibition HOLD STILL_keep going at Germany's Museum Folkwang, Essen, in 2001, this book explores the filmic aspects of Frank's photography. The interaction between the still and moving image permeates Frank's oeuvre, from his early still photographs, to his concentration on filmmaking in the 1960s and his use of both thereafter. Adopting a non-chronological approach that juxtaposes work from a career spanning more than 60 years, this volume collects prints, film stills and collages, as well as sequences of still photography arranged like fragments from films. Frank's use of text is also crucial, both in his films (in the form of scripted and improvised dialogue), and through words handwritten on the photographs.