“Trolly – New Orleans”, 1955. The photo, part of Frank’s groundbreaking volume “The Americans”, was taken our days after an encounter with the police in Arkansas that darkened this artistic viewpoint. From the New York Times, July 5 2015

Sixty years ago, at the height of his powers, Frank left New York in a secondhand Ford and began the epic yearlong road trip that would become ‘‘The Americans,’’ a photographic survey of the inner life of the country that Peter Schjeldahl, art critic at The New Yorker, considers ‘‘one of the basic American masterpieces of any medium.’’ Frank hoped to express the emotional rhythms of the United States, to portray underlying realities and misgivings — how it felt to be wealthy, to be poor, to be in love, to be alone, to be young or old, to be black or white, to live along a country road or to walk a crowded sidewalk, to be overworked or sleeping in parks, to be a swaggering Southern couple or to be young and gay in New York, to be politicking or at prayer.

via The Man Who Saw America – The New York Times.

Interesting and fairly long (12 page) article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine of 5 July 2015. I’ve blogged about Frank before:

Robert Frank Collection Guide.
Robert Frank is 90 years old.
Robert Frank and Bert Hardy.

I find it hard to understand the almost ‘godlike’ status that Frank has. I guess that so much time has elapsed since “The Americans” came out that it’s difficult to see how significant it was at the time. I imagine that most photography of the time presented the US in almost idyllic terms (I’m thinking here of magazines such as ‘Life’) so when Frank came along and presented the “seamier” side of US life and culture it was jarring. Since then however, and particularly in the Vietnam and post Vietnam period) this has now almost been “done to death”. Maybe if Frank had gone on to many more great works…..But he didn’t. His fame seems to rest mostly on “The Americans” and a number of not particularly well-know movies. Just the same they are impressive photographs, which I like very much. I admire Frank for his photography, but as someone documenting US life and culture I much prefer Walker Evans. I guess it’s hard to be a pioneer.

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