Robert Frank, London, 1951-53, gelatin silver print, image, 12 7/8 x 8 1/2" paper, 14 x 11" © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation

Robert Frank

Frank portrait.jpg

Robert Frank © Dodo Jin Ming


b. 1924, Zurich, Switzerland
d. 2019, Nova Scotia, Canada

Considered one of the most influential figures in the history of photography, Frank redefined the aesthetic of both the still and the moving image via his pictures and films.

Soon after his emigration to New York in 1947, Alexey Brodovitch hired Frank as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. The position brought many occasions for travel, and Frank’s impressions of the United States, in comparison to other places, impacted his work. After receiving his first Guggenheim Fellowship in 1955, Frank embarked on a two-year trip across America during which he took over 28,000 pictures. Eighty-three of those images were ultimately published in Frank’s groundbreaking monograph The Americans, first by Robert Delpire in 1958 in Paris, and a year later by Grove Press in the United States. Frank’s unorthodox cropping, lighting, and sense of focus attracted criticism. His work, however, was not without supporters. Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg felt a kinship with Frank and his interest in documenting the fabric of contemporary society. Eventually The Americans jettisoned Frank into a position of cultural prominence; he became the spokesperson for a generation of visual artists, musicians, and literary figures both in the United States and abroad.


Robert Frank, Porte de Clignancourt, 1949, gelatin silver print, image, 8 1/4 x 12 7/8", paper, 11 x 14" © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation


Robert Frank, Willem de Kooning, 1961, gelatin silver print, image, 13 1/8 x 8 1/2" paper, 14 x 11" © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation


Robert Frank, Iona, Nova Scotia (Sigrid), 1980, gelatin silver print enlarged from one Polaroid negative, image, 19 x 15", paper, 20 x 16" © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation


Robert Frank, Indianapolis, 1956, gelatin silver print, image, 8 5/8 x 13", paper, 11 x 14" frame, 16 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 1 1/2" © The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation