Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans

After going to the Sunday lecture at the National Gallery, I finally went to see Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans. A large show, Frank's photographs are mostly come from The Americans, his book depicting the annals of American life in the 1950s — life that was in the midst of social upheaval.

Frank gets this across by challenging expectations and presenting frank images of everyday life events and places. There's the Yale Commencement that focuses on an older man and not the cheering graduates in the background, the Cafe in Beaufort, South Carolina with an empty table, (presumably) silent jukebox, and crawling baby.

Frank was friends with Jack Kerouac, and the writer contributed an introduction to Frank's book. Snippets of the introduction occasionally serve as captions for the photographs, like U.S. 201, New Mexico's "long shot of night road arrowing forlorn into immensities and flat of impossible-to-believe America in New Mexico under the prisoner's moon."

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