Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
ROBERT FRANK (b. 1924)
ROBERT FRANK (b. 1924)

Belle Isle -- Detroit, 1955

Details
ROBERT FRANK (b. 1924)
Belle Isle -- Detroit, 1955
gelatin silver print
signed, titled and dated in ink (in the margin)
9¼ x 13½in. (23.4 x 34.2cm.)
Provenance
With Pace Wildenstein MacGill Gallery, New York
Literature
Frank, Les Américains, Delpire, 1958, [pl. 73], p. 151; Frank, The Americans, Grove Press, 1959, [pl. 73], n.p., and in all subsequent editions

Lot Essay

Robert Frank rarely comments on specific individual pictures in The Americans but about this one he said, 'It is quite a strange, sad photo. They are pointless people--totally unimportant, unglamorous, unnoticed.' Documentary Photography, Time-Life Books, 1972, p. 172. In addition to portraying what others passed by, Frank exposed the undercurrents of racism in America subtly, without the use of language like his contemporaries who included signage such as 'Whites Only'. The present lot is a powerful example. The white family occupies the center foreground of the picture thoroughly isolated from the black child and soldier. The stark vertical line of the tree trunk forms an impenetrable barrier separating the soldier from the others. The little girl is to the side and behind the family. The criss-crossed straps on her swimsuit form an 'x' on her back as if to negate her existence.

This print has a tiny bit of retouching near the bottom of the pregnant woman's pocket that slightly readjusts the pattern of the dress at this spot. This is the actual print that was used for reproduction in Documentary Photography, a volume in the widely-distributed, influential Life Library of Photography. All other publications of this image were made from prints that lack this detail.

More from Photographs

View All
View All