Robert Frank is an American photographer; he was born in Switzerland to a Swiss mother and a German father, who’d lost his citizenship as a Jew. The family resided in Switzerland throughout WWII. He trained in photography and produced his first book of photos in 1946.
In 1947 Frank immigrated to the United States. He moved to New York and began working for Harper’s Baazer. He traveled – a lot, North and South America, as well as throughout Europe. He worked as a freelance photojournalist and was part of what has been called ‘the New York school’ of the 40’s and 50’s.
But perhaps his most influential work was his book of photographs called The Americans. In 1955 in part due to the support of Walker Evans, Frank was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. He used the fellowship to travel across the U.S.
After leaving the chaos of Europe during and after WWII Frank was, like many, optimistic about the seeming endless opportunities of America. But the photographs in his book -The Americans, reveal a shift in perspective. Clearly disillusioned, the subjects of Frank’s photographs appear isolated, indifferent and often dejected. Franks’ use of unusual vantage points, cropping and low light broke from the commonly practiced photo techniques of the day and contributed to his unique vision of the tension between the optimistic attitude of the 50’s and the disparities of class and racial differences.