Robert Frank Photography
“Countless photography books are shallow, coffee table fodder; decorations to adorn Hoxton cafes and salon receptions. Moreover, subconsciously, I’ve gravitated toward albums put together by people that didn’t dream of professionalism or acclaim, but rather, they did what they did out of interest and curiosity. Robert Frank started to take photographs to document his journeys and unique surroundings. His work wasn’t staged, the people were real, he used inexpensive equipment, yet the stories are unrivaled.
A melancholic stare at a jukebox, families seated at dinner and funeral attendees paying their respects. Where did distant thoughts dwell? Were these people part of the, “American Dream” portrayed by Elvis or Dion and The Belmonts? Photographs of diners and 50s paraphernalia suggest they were, yet faces carry burden, stress, repression; and in contrasting extremes, privilege, innocence and sheltered upbringings. It’s not a mere documentation of 50s America: it’s story of class culture and a passive classification of the haves and the have-nots” (Uba Kontrovasie, March 2011).
Much of Robert Frank’s work is a snapshot of a defined American culture, but occupied by ambiguous inhabitants who approach their atmosphere in a disconnected, foreign way. It is a perspective on American culture and society in the 1950’s that is rarely explored: the sense of detachment experienced by American citizens to their enviorment in the face of a rapid, ever-changing cultural landscape.
Frank’s photograph’s explicityly explore this disconnect from individual to enviorment from an aesthetic standpoint. He does not provide an answer for this division between American citizens to it’s savoir-faire culture, but he documents it as an objective observer from the outside looking in, adding yet another level of postmodernistic depth to the existential subject matter explored.