Robert Frank traveled thousands of kilometers between America’s East and West coasts, taking almost 30,000 photographs on over 600 rolls of film. A very small selection of just 83 black-and-white pictures from this mixture of diary and social portrait have influenced generations of photographers after him. With an introduction by no less than Beat novelist Jack Kerouac, Frank’s book The Americans was first published in Paris before it was released in the United States in 1959. In it Frank navigates between narrative, documentary, and photographic road movie. Oblique angles, cropped figures, and blurred movement became the hallmarks of a new photographic style that would change the course of postwar photography.
The exhibition Robert Frank . Unseen at C/O Berlin presents selected early works, including contact sheets, diverse first editions, and unique vintage material as well as previously unpublished and unknown photographs taken during Frank’s time in Switzerland and his travels through Europe and South America. It brings together pictures from the United States in the 1950s that went unpublished for editorial reasons and famous classic photos from The Americans. The exhibition reveals the narrative power of a visual language that Frank developed long before it earned him international recognition. Robert Frank is now considered one of the most important and influential visual artists of our time.
Robert Frank (b. 1924 in Zurich) After training as a photographer in Switzerland, Frank traveled to New York for the first time in 1947 where he was promptly hired by Harper’s Bazaar. Soon thereafter he embarked on travels through South America and back to Europe. In 1950 he was invited by Edward Steichen to take part in the group exhibition 51 American Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. After that he traveled back and forth between Europe and the United States, working on a freelance basis for Life, McCall’s, Look, and Vogue. In 1955 he became the first European to receive a grant from the renowned Guggenheim Foundation to produce a comprehensive photographic report on the United States. The result was his photo book The Americans (1959), which has become an icon of photographic history. His film opus, created since the late 1950s, is less well known by comparison and was shown at C/O Berlin in 2009. His works have been exhibited worldwide, most recently at the photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles (2018), at the Albertina in Vienna (2018), the Art Institute of Chicago (2017), Museum Folkwang in Essen (2014), and Tate Modern in London (2004). Frank lives in New York and in Nova Scotia, Canada.
C/O Berlin Foundation