Arts Photography

RIP Photographer Robert Frank, the “Manet of the new photography”

Robert Frank, one of the most prominent photographers of the 20th century, passed away at the age of 94.

He documented American society while on his cross country road trips in the 1950s, eventually publishing a 1958 black and white photobook The Americans.

“With that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film.”

Jack Kerouac

Writes the New York Times in his obituary:

“The Americans” challenged the presiding midcentury formula for photojournalism, defined by sharp, well-lighted, classically composed pictures, whether of the battlefront, the homespun American heartland or movie stars at leisure. Mr. Frank’s photographs — of lone individuals, teenage couples, groups at funerals and odd spoors of cultural life — were cinematic, immediate, off-kilter and grainy, like early television transmissions of the period. They would secure his place in photography’s pantheon. The cultural critic Janet Malcolm called him the “Manet of the new photography.”

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

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