In 1950, Robert Frank left his job as a photographer in New York to travel through Europe with his family

I recently borrowed Valencia 1952 and The Americans from the Toronto Public Library (TPL).

Robert Frank is a remarkable photographer, who from what I can gather has had a strong impact on the the directions in which photography as a medium has travelled since the 1950s.

He has, as I understand, also had an impact on the history of film as a medium.

When he went to Valencia in 1950, where he spent four or five months, Robert Frank took along his family. In 1956, when he was making the photographs for The Americans, he also sometimes was accompanied by his family.

Blurb for Valencia 1952 from the TPL website

In 1950, Robert Frank left his job as a photographer in New York to travel through Europe with his family. That summer he arrived in Valencia, Spain, which was at the time a humble, bleak place enduring the austere conditions of the postwar period like the rest of the country. The pictures Frank took of Valencia depict the daily life of a fishing village. His portrayal is so natural and clear that further verbal explanation seems superfluous; they simply reflect, in the photo grapher’s words, “the humanity of the moment”. The photographs in this book, many of which have never been published before, allow dignity to override poverty.

Blurb for The Americans from the TPL website

Armed with a camera and a fresh cache of film and bankrolled by a Guggenheim Foundation grant, Robert Frank crisscrossed the United States during 1955 and 1956. The photographs he brought back form a portrait of the country at the time and hint at its future. He saw the hope of the future in the faces of a couple at city hall in Reno, Nevada, and the despair of the present in a grimy roofscape. He saw the roiling racial tension, glamour, and beauty, and, perhaps because Frank himself was on the road, he was particularly attuned to Americans’ love for cars. Funeral-goers lean against a shiny sedan, lovers kiss on a beach blanket in front of their parked car, young boys perch in the back seat at a drive-in movie. A sports car under a drop cloth is framed by two California palm trees; on the next page, a blanket is draped over a car accident victim’s body in Arizona.

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Updates

A July 2, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “The Man Who Saw America.”

A Dec. 15, 2015 Guardian  article is entitled: “The Americans: Robert Frank’s realist photographs head to auction: A rare set of 77 photographs from the book that transformed the way Americans viewed the nation are being sold in New York on Thursday.”

 

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