ROBERT FRANK (1924–2019)
ROBERT FRANK (1924–2019)
ROBERT FRANK (1924–2019)
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Property from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sold to Benefit Collections Care
ROBERT FRANK (1924–2019)

Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955

Details
ROBERT FRANK (1924–2019)
Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955
gelatin silver print, printed c. 1977
signed in ink (margin); with Metropolitan Museum of Art deaccession stamp (verso)
image: 9 x 13 3/4 in. (22.8 x 34.9 cm.)
sheet: 12 x 16 in. (30.4 x 40.6 cm.)
Provenance
Pace MacGill Gallery, New York;
Anonymous Gifts, 1986.
Literature
Robert Frank, Les Américains, Delpire, Paris, 1958, no. 1.
Robert Frank, The Americans, Grove Press, New York, 1959, no. 1, and in all subsequent editions.
Minor White (ed.), 'Robert Frank', Aperture, vol. 9, no. 1, 1961, p. 6.
Willy Rotzler, 'Robert Frank,' Du, vol. 22, no. 1, Zurich, January 1962, p. 16.
John Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1966, p. 155.
Robert Frank, The Lines of My Hand, Yugensha, Tokyo, 1972, p. 57, and in each of the subsequent variant editions.
Martin Mann, Documentary Photography: Time Life Library of Photography, New York, 1972, p. 168.
Robert Frank, Robert Frank: The Aperture History of Photography Series, Aperture Foundation, New York, 1976, cover.
John Szarkowski, Photography Until Now, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989, p. 258.
Sarah Greenough et al., Robert Frank: Moving Out, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994, p. 175.
Peter Galassi, American Photography, 1890-1965, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1995, p. 215.
Peter Galassi, Walker Evans & Company, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2000, pl. 316.
Ian Penman, Robert Frank: Storylines, Tate Modern, London, 2004, frontispiece 3.
Sarah Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2009, cover, pp. 211 and 460 and contact no. 1.
Peter Galassi, Robert Frank, In America, Steidl, Göttingen, 2014, p. 107.

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Lot Essay

I speak of the things that are there, anywhere and everywhereeasily found, not easily selected and interpreted. – Robert Frank

When Robert Frank was awarded his first Guggenheim fellowship in the spring of 1955, he was the first European-born photographer to receive this honor. This fellowship, and the renewal he received in the spring of 1956, allowed Frank to create his book The Americans, a photographic work that would be, in his words, ‘the visual study of a civilisation’ and later in his application, ‘what one naturalized American finds to see in the United States that signifies the kind of civilization born here and spreading elsewhere’.

The initial critical reception of this brutally honest work about postwar America was harsh. The book itself pulled no punches; gone were the views of America seen through rose-colored glasses as offered in the main stream publications of the day. First photographers, and then others, came to embrace Frank’s book; in short, it resonated long and hard and held up under repeated viewings. It is now universally seen as one of the most important books of photographs of the 20th century, inspiring the past two generations of artists.


From spring of 1955 until early 1957, Robert Frank crisscrossed the United States, capturing scenes he felt were absent from mainstream depictions of the country. Parade Hoboken, New Jersey became the opening photograph of The Americans, first published in 1958 in France and the following year by Grove Press in New York. The American flag appears four times across the eighty-two images that comprise to book, rendering four interpretations of the flag, and more so, its changing position as an icon of national identity.

Parade Hoboken depicts two women standing in a window, partially obscured by the American flag draped across the building’s facade, presenting a deeply critical (even if nuanced) interpretation of national identity. Taken during a celebration of the city of Hoboken’s centennial in March of 1955, the two women, despite standing a few feet apart, are oblivious to the other’s presence, each one framed by a brick wall. While one woman’s face is recessed in shadows, the other’s is completely blocked by the billowing flag, her identity forever hidden. Frank commented that, 'This is a picture of two people who were standing behind one of the flags… They’re sort of hiding. . . [it is] a threatening picture.' As the opening image in his grand opus, this image set the tone for the rest of the book, cementing its role as one of the greatest of Frank’s images.

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