The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC on Tuesday opened a special memorial exhibition of five works of Swiss-born American photographer Robert Frank, who died at age 94 last week.
Drawn from the Gallery’s collection of Frank’s work, the exhibition has on display his photographs shot between 1952 and 1993. They mark the evolution of Frank’s art – from his groundbreaking early images that evocatively captured his response to the world around him to his later diaristic pictures that pushed the boundaries of contemporary photography.
Included in the installation are two of his most celebrated early pictures: London (1952-1953), of a child running away from a hearse, and Trolley – New Orleans (1955), his poignant yet searing depiction of racism from his seminal book ‘The Americans’.
The 1959 book ‘The Americans’, is one of the most influential photography books of the 20th century. It looked beneath the surface of life in the United States to reveal a country plagued by racism, ill served by its politicians, and rendered numb from a culture of consumerism that promised great choice but offered little satisfaction.
Also on display are three of his later pictures: ‘Hold Still-Keep Going’ (1989), which alludes to the ways in which photography seeks to hold back the passage of time; ‘End of Dream’ (1992), a unique composite work consisting of multiple colour and black-and-white prints made at his home in Nova Scotia; and ‘New York City, 7 Bleecker Street’ (1993), a self-portrait he made for the Gallery’s 1994 exhibition ‘Robert Frank: Moving Out’.