American Beauty

So speaking of Robert Frank, there is a must see exhibition of all the prints from his photographic masterpiece "The Americans" at the Metropolitan Museum here in NYC . If you haven't been there yet, you only have a few weeks to catch the subway uptown to see it, because the show is closing on January 3rd - and you know that's coming up fast. You better not miss this one!

I drove myself down to Washington D.C. last year when this exhibition appropriately debuted at the National Gallery of Art. Robert Frank himself drove all over the country to take these infamous photographs in 1956. And his little book The Americans changed the whole game of photography. In 1956, there was Elvis, and there was Robert Frank. That's all you need to know.

At the time, Robert Frank was exorcised for taking out of focus, grainy, tilted ugly photographs. What he was in fact doing, was breaking the rules and changing the whole concept of what a photograph was. While Elvis was doing the same thing with "That's Alright Mama at Sun Studios, Robert Frank, as Jack Kerouac says in the intro to The Americans, "sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film".

There is an immense catalog of the exhibition compiled by curator Sarah Greenough, which includes the contact sheets from every photograph (be sure to get the hardcover edition!). It is almost encyclopedic in it's coverage of the little LP of a book that The Americans is - 83 photographs that tell the compact story of America in 1956. Tell someone you love that this is what you want for Chanukah.

Robert Frank, NYC 1980