Robert Frank in the Motor City

What a great pleasure it was to see a number of Robert Frank’s photographs from Detroit in 1955 published in Saturday’s Detroit News . The images are from Frank’s historic travel to Detroit on a Guggenheim fellowship to make pictures for his now-classic photo book The Americans. Apparently, LeDuff has gotten to know Robert Frank well in recent years, and he penned another interesting article about the photographer during a visit to China for Vanity Fair earlier this year.

I had a rare opportunity to meet Robert Frank back in 2004 while a number of his photographs from the DIA were on loan to the Storylines exhibition at the Tate Modern in London. Robert had fond memories of Detroit, eventhough he spent a night in a downtown jail over a misunderstanding regarding his used car. All and all, he knew Detroit had a reputation as a tough city, but  found it a “real and unique” place and one of the most inspirational American cities for his photo essay.

Robert Frank (at left) and British artist Richard Hamilton at the Tate Modern, London, UK, 2004

Robert Frank (at left) and British artist Richard Hamilton at the Tate Modern, London, UK, 2004

Many thanks to Charlie LeDuff for giving Robert’s work some visibility on the front page of our local paper, so few people realize Frank spent time photographing throughout Detroit.  The Detroit Institute of Arts is fortunate to have over fifty photographs from Frank’s 1955 visit to the city, and the museum looks forward to featuring this work in a special exhibition during our 2009-2010 schedule.

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