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Death of Robert Frank, monument of American photography


Death of Robert Frank, monument of American photography

New York (AFP)

The Swiss-born American photographer Robert Frank, who influenced generations of photographers with his book "The Americans" (1958), died in Canada on Monday, at age 94, confirmed Tuesday his New York gallery.

"Robert died last night of natural causes at Inverness Hospital," Nova Scotia told AFP a spokesman for the Pace / MacGill gallery in Manhattan.

Many photographers have immediately paid homage to social networks to the one who, with his black and white shots away from the "American Dream", had often transformed their eyes forever.

"Rest in peace, American genius," tweeted Jerry Saltz, a New York magazine critic and Pulitzer Critics Prize winner. "He published + The Americans + in 1958. Changed the world".

Many recalled a phrase of the writer Jack Kerouac, who had prefaced "The Americans".

"With his little camera, which he raises and manipulates with one hand, he (Robert Frank) has drawn from America a sad poem, taking his place among the tragic poets of this world," he wrote. author of "On the Road" before adding: "To Robert Frank I send this message: you have eyes".

- On Route 66, with his Leica

"The Americans" was in line with the Beat Generation literary and artistic movement, where following the instinct prevails over the foundations of photojournalism techniques, where the photos are as if snapped up and no longer framed.

Rejected by American publishers, it first appears in France in 1958 at Robert Delpire. It includes 83 photographs of more than 28,000 (700 films) taken by the author on a trip through 48 states.

Like Kerouac, and other writers of the Beat Generation, Robert Frank had embarked on an adventure westward along the famous Route 66, his Leica slung over his shoulder.

Between April 1955 and June 1956, he had photographed New York socialites, snack bars, roads, blacks in the fields, drive-ins, and so on. The subjective report was born.

"I tried to forget the easy photos to try to bring out something from the inside," said the author for whom primacy of the sense of immediacy and emphasis on the point of view of the photographer.

If the book was to make Robert Frank a king of the counter-culture, the book was welcomed fresh on its release: it is considered depressing and subversive, highlighting poverty, segregation, inequality and loneliness, far from the images of America triumphant.

"Frank produced a feeling of images," said Walker Evans, another monster crowned in the photo, known for his work on the Great Depression (around the 1930s) and who would greatly influence Robert Frank.

- From the photo to the cinema -

Born on November 9, 1924 in Zurich, into a family of German Jewish industrialists, Robert Frank is very young and passionate about photography, working in laboratories in Zurich and Basel since 1940.

In 1947, he moved to the United States, working as a fashion photographer and reporter for magazines such as Fortune, Life or Harper's Bazaar. But he quickly deceives: this world of frills and money is not for him.

He travels first to Latin America, then to Europe, especially Paris, which he loves. In 1953, he returned to New York. Refusing magazine orders, he was awarded a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, which gave him the freedom to do his job as he pleased. It will be the adventure of the "Americans".

In 1961, he presented his first major exhibition in Chicago to be followed by many others.

Nevertheless, he decides to abandon the photo for avant-garde cinema: with success, he says, he is afraid of "repeating himself". His first film, "Pull My Daisy", was released in 1959, with Delphine Seyrig. It will mark, among others, the director John Cassavetes.

The 70's are the tests: separated from his wife, with whom he had two children, he moved with the one who will be his second wife in a remote corner of Nova Scotia. His daughter died in 1974 in a plane crash in Guatemala while her son went into mental illness (he committed suicide in the early 1990s).

This does not prevent him from developing his formal experiments around the image. He will direct a total of twenty films (including short films or clips) inspired by art, rock, writing, his son or travel, such as "This song for Jack" (1983), "Candy mountain "(1987) or" Paper route "(2002).

He returns more or less to the photo through editing snapshots, working on negatives or polaroids.

"I destroy what is descriptive in the photos to show how I go, me," he summarized.

© 2019 AFP

Source: france24

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