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)

U.S. 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas, 1955

ROBERT FRANK (1924–2019)
U.S. 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas, 1955
gelatin silver print, printed 1977
signed, titled and dated in ink (margin); stamped with Metropolitan Museum of Art deaccession and 'Robert Frank Archive,' annotated 'Americans 83' and titled in pencil (verso)
image: 13 1/8 x 8 1/2 in. (33.3 x 21.5 cm.)
sheet: 14 x 12 in. (35.5 x 40.6 cm.)
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York;
Purchase, Emanuel Gerard Gift and matching funds from the National
Endowment for the Arts, 1979.
Robert Frank, Les Américains, Delpire, Paris, 1958, no. 83.
Robert Frank, The Americans, Grove Press, New York, 1959, no. 83, and in all subsequent editions.
Sarah Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2009, p. 311.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs, February 26, 1982–May 1, 1982, and thereafter to Cincinnati, Contemporary Arts Center, Dallas, Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Corcoran Gallery of Art (through April 1983);
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photographs from the 1940s and 1950s: Selections from the Collection, December 18, 1990–March 17, 1991.

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Lot Essay

U. S. 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas, is the last image in Robert Frank’s The Americans and features Frank’s wife, Mary, and their children, Pablo and Andrea, sleeping in the back of their car. Frank’s family rode with him for portions of the cross-country journey he embarked upon for this epochal project.

In a letter to his friend and mentor, Walker Evans, Frank writes on stationery from Del Rio, ‘We are now in Carlsbad, N.M. No more arrests since I travel en familie.

Frank was referring to two incidents that occurred earlier that year (1955): the first was in Detroit over the summer, when Frank spent a night in jail for possessing two license plates (his current plate and the one from his car’s previous owner). The second was a dramatic twelve-hour arrest and interrogation in McGehee, Arkansas that November. No reason was ever given for Frank’s vehicle being initially pulled over; in a subsequent report the arresting officer is recorded as saying that Frank was ‘shabbily dressed, needed a shave and a haircut, also a bath. Subject talked with a foreign accent.’

It was later that same month that Mary and the children joined Frank in Houston and the four drove across southern Texas on U.S. 90. About this time in her life, Mary later remarked, ‘We just took off in a car. It was freezing in Texas, a lot of snow… two kids, one of them sick, no place to wash diapers. We didn’t know where we were going or where we’d stay’ (Hayden Herrera, Mary Frank, Harry A. Abrams, New York, 1990, p. 25). Given the austere nature of the trip, and the uncertainties of it all, as expressed only as a mother can, Frank’s positioning of this as the last image of his epic poem rings particularly tender.

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