Robert Frank (1924~) was an immigrant to the U.S. and seemed to see the U.S. through an immigrant’s eye. His most famous work is ‘The Americans’, shot on a series of road trips across the U.S. in the 1950s. Frank had trouble getting the book published in the U.S., and it was first published in Europe, possibly due to the brutally honest viewpoint evident in the photos.
The images were at the time accused of being poor technically – Popular Photography described them as “meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness.”Looking at the images today it’s hard to see how such a criticism could be considered since we are more used to edgier images.
There are startling compositions such as the man with the sousaphone head, and the obscured faces of the people watching the parade in Hoboken. Many of the images portray a dysfunctional America – the bored Elevator Girl, the line of people joylessly consuming in the Detroit drugstore, the man looking at the juke box in Las Vegas, all dressed up, yet solitary.
There is also an interesting sequel concerning the Elevator Girl:
Frank moved into filmmaking and later directed music videos for New Order and Patti Smith.