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Robert Frank - The Americans

Category: Exhibition 15. November 2017

Cowboys, busses, cars, fast food restaurants, flags, parades, these are recurring motifs in Robert Frank’s pictures of America, although regarded subjectively without euphemisms, showing things as they are.

The Albertina Museum dedicated a comprehensive solo retrospective to the soon 94 years-old doyen of street photography, with many of the photographs that have become classics in the meantime.

In 1955, a Guggenheim grant allowed him to travel extensively through the US, accompanied by his young family. Out of the 27.000 negatives he made during these travels he chose 83, in black and white, for his photo book The Americans, published 1958 in Paris and 1959 in New York. At first slammed by critics as anti-American, it should later become one oft he most influential publications in the history of photography.

It shows the backside of the American Dream, its reality, it shows the shadows of the county, its inhabitants look lonely, melancholic, weary, sometimes suspicious.

The distrustful expression on the faces of some of his models are partly due to his method. With his Leica 35 mm handheld camera, he developed a technique of taking quick snapshots without long arrangements. The steep angles, overexposures, tilted horizons and cut-off edges bear witness to his dynamic way of taking photographs spontaneously, without formal composition or asking for permission.

The exhibition, curated by Walter Moser, sets out from long before The Americans, showing photographs from the beginnings of Robert Frank’s career as well.

In the 1970ies, Frank increasingly turned towards filming, returning to photography some years later, after the tragical death of his daughter in a plane crash in Guatemala in 1974. Her and her bother Pablo who committed suicide in 1994, are protagonists of the film Conversations in Vermont (1969). This and other films and videos by Robert Frank are shown by the Filmmuseum from the 10th until the 27th of November. The notorious Rolling Stones-documentary Cocksucker Blues is screened in mid-January due to legal restrictions. The biopic Robert Frank – Don’t Blink will be released in Austrian movie theatres from Nov. 10.  (written by Cem Angeli)

"Robert Frank" from October 25 until January 21 in the "Galleries for Photography" of the Albertina. Daily 10 am until 6 pm, wednesdays and fridays until 9 pm.

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