Sunday, 14 March 2010

Robert Frank Photographer

Robert Frank (born November 9, 1924), born in Zürich, Switzerland, is an important figure in American photography and film. His most notable work, the 1958 photographic book titled simply The Americans, was heavily influential in the post-war period, and earned Frank comparisons to a modern day de Tocqueville for his fresh and skeptical outsider's view of American society. Frank later expanded into film and video and experimented with compositing and manipulating photographs.
Frank emigrated to the USA in 1947, and secured a job in New York City as a fashion photographer for Harper's Bazaar. He soon left to travel in South America and Europe. He created a hand made book of photographs that he shot in Peru, and returned to the USA in 1950. That year was momentous for Frank, who, after meeting Edward Steichen, participated in the group show 51 American Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); he also married fellow artist, Mary Lockspeiser, with whom he had two children, Andrea and Pablo.

The Americans , by Robert Frank, was a highly influential book in post war American photography. It was first published in France in 1958, and the following year in the USA. The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of US society. The book as a whole created a complicated portrait of the period that was viewed as skeptical of contemporary values and evocative of ubiquitous loneliness. Frank found a tension in the gloss of American culture and wealth over race and class differences, which gave Frank's photographs a clear contrast to those of most contemporary American photojournalists, as did his use of unusual focus, low lighting and cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques.
Shortly after returning to New York in 1957, Frank met Beat writer Jack Kerouac on the sidewalk outside a party and showed him the photographs from his travels, he contributed the introduction to the USA edition of The Americans.

Though he was initially optimistic about USA society and culture, Frank's perspective quickly changed as he confronted the fast pace of American life and what he saw as an overemphasis on money. He now saw America as an often bleak and lonely place, a perspective that became evident in his later photography. Frank's own dissatisfaction with the control that editors exercised over his work also undoubtedly colored his experience. He continued to travel, moving his family briefly to Paris. In 1953, he returned to New York and continued to work as a freelance photojournalist for magazines including McCall's, Vogue, and Fortune.

Pull My Daisy (1959) is a short film that typifies the Beat Generation. Directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, Daisy was adapted by Jack Kerouac from the third act of his play, Beat Generation; Kerouac also provided improvised narration.

Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 Lowell, Massachusetts, New England – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist and poet. Alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, he is considered a pioneer of the Beat Generation, and a literary iconoclast. Although the body of Kerouac's work has been published in English, recent research has suggested that, aside from already known correspondence and letters written to friends and family, he also wrote unpublished works of fiction in French. A manuscript entitled Sur le Chemin (On the road) completed in five days in Mexico during December 1952 is a telling example of Kerouac's attempts at writing in Joual, a dialect typical of the French Canadian working class of the time, which can be summarized as a form of expression utilising both old patois and modern French mixed with modern English words (windshield being a modern English expression used casually by some French Canadians even today).

Robert Frank

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