Robert Frank

Sep 13, 2019 – Nov 30, 2019
Parade, Valencia, 1952 © Robert Frank . Courtesy Sammlung Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur und Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern
Besucherinnen in der Ausstellung "Robert Frank . Unseen" bei C/O Berlin © Stephanie von Becker

Robert Frank (b. 1924 in Zurich, d. 2019 in Nova Scotia, Canada) traveled thousands of kilometers between America’s East and West coasts, taking almost 30,000 photographs. Just 83 black-and-white pictures from this mixture of diary, social portrait, and photographic road movie have influenced generations of photographers after him. Frank’s book The Americans was first published in Paris before it was released in the United States in 1959 with an introduction by the Beat novelist Jack Kerouac. Oblique angles, cropped figures, and blurred movement became the hallmarks of a new photographic style that would change the course of postwar photography.

In 1985, Franks photographs have been displayed in Germany for the first time—in the Amerika Haus in Berlin. Now, C/O Berlin presents contact sheets, first editions, and vintage material from the photographer’s early work at the same place. His time in Switzerland, travels through Europe and South America, and unpublished pictures from the United States in the 1950s will be shown together with famous classic photos from The Americans.
Robert Frank . Unseen reveals the narrative power of a visual language that Frank developed long before it earned him international recognition.

The exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur.

Besucher*innen in der Ausstellung "Robert Frank . Unseen" bei C/O Berlin © Stephanie von Becker
C/O Berlin Asks

Robert Frank
was born in Zurich in 1924. A trained photographer, he traveled to New York for the first time in 1947, where he found a position at the Harper’s Bazaar photo studio. He worked between Europe and the US for several years and in 1950, Edward Steichen invited him to participate in the 51 American Photographers exhibition at Museum of Modern Art, New York. Frank freelanced for Life, McCall’s, Look, Vogue and other magazines. In 1955, he was the first European to receive a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship that funded a comprehensive photo series for which he traveled across America. The result was the seminal photobook The Americans (1959). Following the volume’s unexpected success, the photographer turned to film. His later work juxtaposed Polaroids and autobiographical text fragments. This year Frank published his most recent book, Good Days Quiet, at the age of 95. Frank’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, most recently at Les Rencontres d’Arles (2018); Albertina, Vienna (2018); Art Institute of Chicago (2017); Museum Folkwang, Essen (2014); and at Tate Modern, London (2004). His films were shown at C/O Berlin in 2009. Robert Frank lived in New York and in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he died on September 9, 2019.