press release

Robert Frank (now age 90) is one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. His images and films created a new aesthetic in photography and the moving image. Robert Frank: Books and Films, 1947–2014 is not a static retrospective, but a dynamic exhibition experience that weaves in and out of Frank's books and films.

Conceived by Robert Frank himself and curator Gerhard Steidl, the exhibition reflects the photographer's working practices: many of his pictures were "shot from the hip," taken from inside a moving car, in the middle of a bar, or even using a hidden camera in a park. The resulting images owe their unmistakable freshness to the originality of his gaze and the immediate ordinariness of his subjects. The manner of display for such images is thus kept as simple as possible and counteracts the museumification of Frank's work. Some six to fifteen photos from a single book are arranged on flimsy rolls of newsprint more than three metres long, with each image accompanied by its title. The exhibition begins with his first works from 1947 and ends with Polaroids and 35-mm photographs taken in 2014.

The photographer never conceived for his photographic work to be shown as framed prints on a museum wall. Instead he always strove for them to be presented in book form. Frank conceived and designed all his books himself, right down to the last detail. Accordingly, the show presents all Robert Frank's books created and published since 1947.

In the early 1960s Frank ended his career as a photographer, after working in the medium for just over a decade. From then on he devoted himself almost exclusively to film. 27 of his films will be screened on loop in the Museum Folkwang's video room. The films were produced in the period from 1959 to 2008 and include Pull My Daisy (1959), Me and My Brother (1968), This Song for Jack (1983), as well as the more recent works True Story (2004/2008) and Fernando (2008).

The exhibition is premiering at the Museum Folkwang and will travel to London, New York, São Paulo, Tokyo, and many other cities.

The Folkwang's showing of Robert Frank, Books and Films, 1947–2014 will be accompanied by a room featuring 20 additional works by Frank from the Folkwang Photographic Collection. At the heart of this display is the series From the Bus (1958), on view for the first time in full. From the Bus is a key work in Robert Frank's career and marks his farewell to street photography and his transition to film. Also on show are four unpublished shots from his groundbreaking photo project The Americans (1955–1957), which appeared in book form in 1958, first in Paris and one year later in New York.

The exhibition is supported by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Wolff Gruppe.