Robert Frank's America
Last week I did a piece on Rackstraw Downes, who paints those parts of our surroundings that many of us like to pretend just aren't there, the gritty infrastructure of our shining American city on a hill. Photographer Robert Frank was up to something similar in the 1950s, when he published his series of images called "The Americans." Instead of portraying the ignored physical environment he presented the people not often seen in Norman Rockwell cover images or on "Leave It To Beaver." The images aren't disturbing so much as they are funky. But they do show an America that those devoted to Post-War, Cold War propaganda preferred not to deal with. Is Frank's vision more real than Rockwell's? Not really. But the point is that we see what we choose to see.