December 19, 2008

Robert Frank

On December 12, 2008, Philip Gefter wrote about the Swiss-born photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank for the New York Times. Mr. Frank, now 84, is of course well-known for the classic photography book "The Americans", originally published by Robert Delpire, Paris, 1958, and by Grove Press, New York, 1959.

Earlier this decade, as a staff member of the Pace/MacGill Gallery, NY, I was fortunate to have crossed paths with the artist on occasion. Those who know Mr. Frank will agree when I say that it is indeed refreshing to meet someone who's a true romantic...someone who cuts through the bullshit and wears his heart on his sleeve. You want to know Robert Frank on a personal level? Just look at his photographs. The tales of heartache, loneliness, and life's difficulties are all there in black and white.

I love the painter Ad Reinhardt, but I have always thought he was wrong to write "art is art and life is life, that art is not life and that life is not art." In Mr. Frank's case, he separated from his first love, the sculptor and painter Mary Frank, in 1969. In 1974, the artist's daughter, Andrea, died in a plane crash. His son Pablo, long afflicted with mental illness, took his own life in 1994. When I look at Robert Frank's photographs such as "Blind/Love/Faith", 1981 and "Sick of Goodby's", 1978, I am touched. I am human again.

And so it is that I say a big thank you to Robert Frank. You've passed on the spiritual gift that only one artist can give to another - that of hope and encouragement. Tabula rasa. The unfailing belief in being free and creative. - PS

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