September 11th, 2011
Robert Frank (b. 1924)
From the top: London, 1952-53; Elevator—Miami Beach, 1955
”London” belongs in that special class of photograph that is not only strikingly composed but is also able to generate a powerful & complexly emotional narrative interest. Why is the woman running in the rain? Is it even raining or just damp and dewy out? Did she jump from the back of the car to rush to some appointment? Late for work? Look at the way the car’s backdoor window frames, like a camera, the person across the street. Look at the long beam of flagstone sheen flanked by dark bricks and the black of the car. Look at the haze settling over everything like a blanket. I see this and feel so many things at once… fear, thrill, gloom, curiosity, a sense of delight and discovery, wonder.
Love the Miami shot as well, the way the camera finds her and her eyeroll while socialites pass out into the rotty flowered hall. Does she envy them? Or does she it all clearly as sham? Is she resentful, jealous, or just bored? Elevator operator or hanger-on lagging behind? And does she know she’s being snapped? We share her viewpoint no matter what, we become her, unite with her as she stands still, out of step with everyone but following them all closely with her eyes.
Great article on Frank, including more of his work, over at Transmopolis.com.