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Robert Frank: Forward

With the publication of Frank’s The Americans in 1959, certain photographers in the United States recognized a profound challenge to the standards of photographic imagery and style. Frank’s pictures evidenced a sophisticated social intelligence, quick eyes and mind, and a radical understanding of the potentials of the small camera. Emphasis was placed on relevant content and subject matter, rather than on the art of the fine print. While the eighty photographs included in the present exhibition- by Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Bill Dane, Henry Wessel, Jr., William Eggleston, Tod Papageorge and Leo Rubinfien- are far more diverse than similar in approach, the photographers have all used Frank’s work as a point of departure.

Common to these photographers is the feeling of being improvised and true; all convey a sense of immediate discovery. The older photographers (Winogrand, Arbus, Friedlander) transformed Frank’s vision while using similar photographic tools: a 35 mm camera and fast black-and-white film (Arbus later turned to the larger 2¼“ square camera). The younger group, including Papageorge, Eggleston, and Rubinfien, have extended the tradition while using large format portable cameras (e.g. 2¼“ x 3¼“ roll film), and sometimes color. Through various highly individual approaches, each of these photographers has found a successful solution to the problem of transposing the real world into a clear photograph.