Pace/MacGill Gallery presents Robert Frank: Park/Sleep & Partida. Featuring the original prints and ephemera comprising his two most recent photographic books – Park/Sleep (Steidl 2013) and Partida (Steidl 2014) – the exhibition explores Robert Frank’s continued interest in the narrative possibilities of the medium and the art of the photobook. With his passion for storytelling, Frank single-handedly altered the shape of photography by challenging the formal and conceptual expectations of a selectively sequenced set of images. Park/Sleep and Partida represent the latest installments in his ongoing exploration of this technique.
Celebrated as one of the most important and influential photographers of the 20th century, Frank has consistently embraced the narrative potential of carefully composed photographic sequences. His search for “a more sustained form of expression” than the single, static image has resulted in compelling visual stories that actively engage viewers with their deliberately designed progression, compression of time, and layered meanings. Undoubtedly, Frank’s best known sequence is The Americans, a seminal suite of 83 photographs from 1955-56 cross-country road trips that presents a penetrating portrait of post-war American life. Revolutionary in both subject matter and style, The Americans was also formally innovative, as Frank discerningly selected and arranged just 83 images from some 27,000 frames to illustrate his distinct vision of America. Moreover, he allowed the pictures to speak for themselves, employing their titles as the only form of didactic text.
While The Americans (published as Les Américains by Robert Delpire in Paris in 1958 and by Grove Press in New York in 1959) is regarded as the photobook masterpiece of Frank’s career, he was thoughtfully editing and assembling his pictures into books of photographs with conceptual clarity and formal economy as early as 40 Fotos (1946), a hand-made portfolio of 40 images. He has continued this practice throughout his career with publications such as Peru (1949), Mary’s Book (1949), Black White and Things (1950), and The Lines of My Hand (1989).
In collaboration with Gerhard Steidl and A-CHAN, Frank has created four photobooks of sequenced narratives in a proposed series of six. Like much of his later work, these publications collage text and imagery into poetic, personal meditations on memory, relationships, and place. In Park/Sleep and Partida, Frank continues his diaristic approach to storytelling, interweaving new and old images of family, friends, home, ordinary objects, interiors, and outdoor scenes. Accompanied by pieces of conversations, short poems, and thoughts in the form of printed text, these series of pictures are visual accounts of the people, places, and experiences that hold particular meaning to Frank.
Park/Sleep & Partida
by Robert Frank
April 30 – June 13, 2015
32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor