On view in Gallery 9 right now is Robert Frank’s “Charleston, South Carolina,” a print from his seminal series The Americans, which turned 50 this year. In 1955 and 1956, the Swiss-born Frank drove all over this land (well, the mainland) fueled by a Guggenheim fellowship. The end result was the 83 images in the book that no American publisher would touch.
It took a Frenchman, Robert Delpire, to publish Les Americains in 1958. Progressive publisher Barney Rosset produced the first American edition under his Grove Press the following year. Frank revealed a harsh, sometimes divided America that was a lot different from the rah-rah ’50s dream of Father Knows Best. His out-of-the-box compositions paved the way for William Eggleston’s profound color images of America that have garnered unanimous applause in the Whitney’s William Eggleston: Democratic Camera.
“No one has had a greater influence on photography in the last half-century than the Swiss-born Mr. Frank, though his reputation rests almost entirely on a single book published five decades ago,” writes Philip Gefter in the New York Times. (Listen to Frank talk about working on The Americans.) In January, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, will present Looking In: Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans‘ a celebration of the photographer’s landmark work. All 83 photographs (and all 81 contact sheets) will be on view.
But you can study one of them right here in Honolulu right now. It is on view in the exhibition Face to Face through February 22. Come see what all the fuss is about.