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

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Subject: RE: [Leica] Robert Frank in Ottawa
From: "B. D. Colen" <>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 11:07:39 -0400

En Garde!

Forget the 'blame America' crap - Sure, his vision of America was dark, but
there's nothing he photographed that hadn't been photographed for decades
and decades - Lewis Hine didn't exactly have a sunshiney vision! And look at
allot of Gene Smith's stuff - the Pittsburgh work, for example. The
difference is that Frank's entire vision - as offered in The Americans - is

Many of the individual photographs, however, are truly brilliant. I would
suggest, as an example, the photo on page 45 of the New Orleans street car.
Each window on the street car could be seen as a beautifully composed photo
within a photo.

But back to the 'blame America crap.' It's easy to forget today, with our
Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, 'Good Old Days' vision of the 50's,
that that was a pretty ugly period in America. McCarthyism - the real
McCarthyism - was rampant, conformism was at an all-time high, racism and
discrimination were givens - the point that there was no difference between
South African apartheid and the laws and rules that governed the lives of
blacks in the American South. So given all that, it is not surprising that
Frank should have a dark vision. One sided? It sure was. But the side he
portrayed was only being seen sporadically during that period.

B. D.

- -----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Steve
Sent: Friday, June 28, 2002 11:51 AM
Subject: Re: [Leica] Robert Frank in Ottawa

> Robert Frank....For whatever it's worth, I'd suggest that Robert Frank is
> some ways a tragic figure in terms of photography in that he was someone
> with an incredible vision, and pretty amazing visual skills, who, in a
> sense, abandoned that vision and those skills to move in other directions.
> know there are those who will disagree with me - :-) - but I think that if
> he is judge by what he's done in those "other directions," he'd be
> considered a very minor figure. It is only because of The Americans that
> anyone pays any attention to Frank.
> B. D.
> Throwing the old grenade and ducking.;-)

I mostly agree, and if Jack kerouac had not written the forward to the
Americans there would have been no book. Further, 'The Americans' was/is
loved by the far left 'blame America first' crowd. Having said that some of
Frank's work other than 'The Americans' is brilliant.

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