Biography | Bibliography
“In the last thirty years Robert Frank has become something of a hero to several generations of artists, for both his art and the events of his life are so compelling that they provide fertile ground for the growth of popular legend. In 1947, at the age of twenty-two, he emigrated from his native Switzerland to the United States, leaving behind a secure if constrained and predictable existence. Although he quickly achieved a certain degree of commercial success, he was never comfortable working for others and conforming to the expectations of society, and so he wandered from New York to South America to Paris, Spain, London, and Wales, in search of something more.
A man of great, if quiet ambition, Frank returned to the United States in 1953 and embarked upon a project with epic proportions and far-ranging consequences: he sought no less than to document a civilization. The resulting publication, The Americans, was- and continues to be – a startling revelation. At a time when this country promoted a wholesale and unambiguous image of itself, Frank looked beneath the surface, scrutinizing the culture with honest but passionate vision to reveal a profound sense of alienation, angst, and loneliness.
While The Americans was a clarion call to many who saw it as an affirmation of their sense that all was not well with American cultural, social, and political values, it was a mantle of fame the photographer himself did not wear easily, and he seen abandoned still photograph for what he found to be the more challenging medium of filmmaking. His first film, Pull My Daisy, made with and about many celebrated members of the beat generations, also was highly influential.
As Frank’s reputation burgeoned in the late 1960’s, his reluctance to be involved in the cult of celebrity and his desire to change his life radically propelled him to a remote corner of Nova Scotia, Canada. There he not only experienced the solitude of nature, but also endured a series of personal tragedies. Yet he continued to work, making some of the most innovative art of his career. These photographs and films speak less about American culture and politics and more about his own internal state; they express feelings for his family and friends, his past and present, and they address the issues of time, memory, change, and continuity.”1
1From Philip Brookman and Sarah Greenough, Robert Frank: Moving Out. Zurich: Scalo, 1994. 24-25.
Philip Brookman, Robert Frank: London/Wales, New York: DAP, 2003.
Ute Eskildsen, Robert Frank: Hold Still Keep Going, Zurich: Scalo, 2001.
W.S. Di Piero, Martin Gasser, John Hanhardt, Robert Frank: Black white and things, Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1994.
Vicente Todoli, Robert Frank, Storyline, London: Steidl- Tate Modern, 2004.
Anne W. Tucker, Robert Frank: New York to Nova Scotia, New York: New York Graphic Society, 1987.