Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/06/28

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Subject: RE: [Leica] Robert Frank in Ottawa
From: "m" <>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 22:09:29 +0200

>mr. Colen, I imagine that a book like "The Americans" must still be a huge weight on Frank's shoulders. I mean, how can you top work like that? So he worked on other things, films and stuff. (he's not a one-book photographer though: the rest of his photographic work, before The Americans and the scarce material after The Americans, are amazing)
His movies are not as good as The Americans? Maybe. But the Rolling Stones tour film is an underground classic. Maybe he got discouraged by the horrible personal tragedies who marred his later years.
And anyway, do you judge Michael Jordan by his baseball career? I don't. So why judge Frank by his film and experimental art work when he is a photographer?
Maybe HCB drawings are as good as his photography, maybe not. Who cares?

And, mr. LeHuray, sir, I think Kerouac wrote "The Americans" forward when he was not yet the legend he later became. And anyway I'm not sure Kerouac later fame did very much to promote "The Americans" sales (anyway it had already been published in Europe by Delpire, the US printing came later)

What does it mean that The Americans is "loved by the far left 'blame America first'"? It's very hard to consider it as propaganda of any kind, it is first and foremost an artistic endeavour. 
Did he have to shoot smiling happy families not to be considered unAmerican? Did he have to be upbeat all the time?
It's a sad book, yes. Is sadness un-American? 
That's the argument some of his early critics used, tearing The Americans apart for being un-American. It was a very Cold War attitude. They have been proven wrong by the people who still keep the book in print, not because they hate America but because they love the work by, possibly, the greatest photographer who ever lived.

matteo persivale

milan, italy
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