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Author Topic: RIP Robert FRANK (94)  (Read 1036 times)

DanLehman

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RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« on: October 16, 2019, 08:43:58 pm »

In the But Is It Art forum was

> On Tuesday, Sept 3, Peter Lindbergh aged 74, passed away.

so perhaps it's appropriate to post here that
on Monday, September 9, Robert Frank, aged 94, passed beyond earthly horizons.
cf. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/arts/robert-frank-dead-americans-photography.html

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RSL

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2019, 03:43:13 pm »

Right, Dan. Hated to see him go. He was an original.

Patricia Sheley

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2019, 11:20:46 pm »

Always had the sense that Michael R. and Robert Frank were cut of the same extraordinary cloth. Respect them both, enjoying an evening with them from time to time at the same volume table, paging through their bodies of work, always aware of the elevating of my vision by way of their commonalities. They are both very much a part of this woman's path along this curve upon which I am fortunate enough to yet tread.
Lumine~
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A common woman~

Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2019, 05:26:06 am »

This topic already ran here in September, courtesy Francisco:

https://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=132076.0

Yes, a sad loss indeed, but also a measure of how the world and photography have both changed out of recognition. I would posit that where we once had pioneers, we now have clones.

Those early folks fought hard to get published, something they achieved both through massive doses of good fortune and intervention from foreign publishers. Without such visionaries abroad, the work would have remained rejected and buried by the domestic powers that be who knew - and know today - that what you can see with your own eyes is never as real as when you see it published: that's why newspapers and reporters get jailed. Quite why seeing something "in print" makes it more believably real than when you see it first-hand is a mystery, but I guess it boils down to a commonly held sense of personal doubt, and a sense of relative inferiority, where you must have others confirm what you have seen with your own eyes in order to accept it for what you already know it to be.

Suspension of belief is a part of all of this: we don't want to see reality too clearly because it scares the hell out of us all. You just need to look at the political madness in the US and in Britain today to encounter the truth of this problem. Despite seeing the flaws, the warts, seeing the daily lies uncovered, the faithfull still hang on to that brakeless truck accelerating down to the chasm's edge.

Would the apes do that? I tend to believe they know how strong a branch is before they leap for it.

Rob

petermfiore

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2019, 07:19:35 am »

This topic already ran here in September, courtesy Francisco:

https://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=132076.0

Yes, a sad loss indeed, but also a measure of how the world and photography have both changed out of recognition. I would posit that where we once had pioneers, we now have clones.

Rob

There are still pioneers...you know, the ones that receive chuckles and the wrath of many. For their work is "odd" and not understood.
Not all work that is "odd" and mis understood will qualify as genius, for alas most is junk.

It's very hard to pioneer in this world where we are bombarded by so many "nice" images. And we all make them.

Peter

« Last Edit: October 20, 2019, 07:50:01 am by petermfiore »
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Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2019, 10:20:39 am »

There are still pioneers...you know, the ones that receive chuckles and the wrath of many. For their work is "odd" and not understood.
Not all work that is "odd" and mis understood will qualify as genius, for alas most is junk.

It's very hard to pioneer in this world where we are bombarded by so many "nice" images. And we all make them.

Peter

That's the problem: it overwhelms everything else because the means of projection to the world market are controlled by vested interests that push, promote and deify those it believes will bring profit. It's no good quoting the Internet as a secondary outlet to fame and fortune: what goes there is also drowned or at the very least swept along in the sludge that seeps downhill to the final swamp. People demand taste-definers, as they do personal shoppers. (I wonder if one of those has ever brought back an invisible, empress dress for madam to try?)

It all leads back to the idea of the golden photographic age, which despžte the claims of many to the contrary, I firmly do believe did exist; it worked for me, as for many more at a much higher and shiny level than to which I ever clambered.

To understand all of this properly, you have to have at least one of the two following qualities: have worked in the medium during that time, or have worked in the selling side of it. As most things require a definition in order to be understood, or at least for the thing under discussion to be understood for what it is, rather than confused with some other, external interpretation of what the writer means, let me try to define my meaning of the golden age of photography this way: it is the period, from just before WW2 until around the late 80s when the advent of digital cameras began to impact the world of cameras, materials and photographer expectations.

During that period, the magazines that were still able to print through the war (UK Vogue, for one), were producing "pioneering" work in fashion; post-war fashion, reportage and general advertising photography on billboards was becoming more creative than ever it had been. Immediately post-war, the world renewal brought an explosion of print as it did of reconstruction of damaged buildings, bombed factories and construction of entirely new ones; cars became more widely available to normal people, catching up with the US, and a positive creative air was to be smelled and enjoyed, even as many factories were being hindered and finally ruined by communist-run unions that were quite divorced from the majority of members, most of whom had no option but to join such unions if they wanted a job. (I spent four years on the "shop floor" in a very modern engineering group and nobody anywhere needs try to correct me on my impressions on labour relations and union power: I was there, lived it, suffered parts of it and eventually escaped.)

Come the Sixties, and things in the commercial creative arts jumped into overdrive. Even up in Scotland, four hundred-plus long road miles from Swingin' London, there existed a "scene", as it did in Manchester, with models agencies springing up, and work around for those who really did search and could produce, rather than sit at home, moan and do nothing. Camera shops were plentiful, and even remote Glasgow boasted Hasselblad and Leica specialists and Nikons were almost all available from stock. The photo world was in good health. I sometimes used a Glasgow E6 processing company (MNS, I think was its name) where two of the young owners owned Ferraris; one red and one blue. GP studios were also flourishing in the city. I think not a one of them exists today as a photographic studio. This flourishing outburst of optimism was there, despite the political bleakness and mismanagement from a succession of political parties: the artistic human spirit seemed to be able to ride above it all and keep on hoping, wishing and making it real. If you went on holiday or on a photo-shoot that needed a Heathrow connection, the airport looked like a convention centre for models and photographers: people were all on the move to or from somewhere. (I have kept away from airports now for years; perhaps younger versions of those intrepžd groups of professional camera-clicking people are still there today?)

I don't sense much of that optimism around from many I meet or correspond with today; the only happy snappers I know are true amateurs. For them, any age where cameras of one kind or another exist can be a golden one. Big difference, both in attitude and of expectation.

RSL

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2019, 10:59:38 am »

I think youíre mostly right, Rob, but Iím not sure the advent of digital cameras had much to do with the disappearance of photographyís golden age, which, by the way, certainly existed. I was there. I saw it. I suspect the advent of the internet had even more to do with it. Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, etc., etc., went tits-up because the internet drained their advertising revenue. The internet proceeded recently to kill Popular Photography, Shutterbug, and other photo magazines. Advertising revenue for equipment just plain disappeared, and all of the photo mags long ago had shifted away from articles about photography to articles about equipment, so there no longer was anything much for them to publish.

The times they are a changiní. Here in the U.S., Amazon is driving Sears, J.C. Penny, and a host of other long-term retailers out of business. There simply isnít much of a print market for photography any longer. On the other hand, thereís a big market for photography on the web, but itís taken care of mostly in-house.

Itíll be interesting to see how all this settles out. My 21 great-grands will be around to see it. Iím damn glad I didnít decide to leave the Air Force in 1956 and become a full-time photographer. As it turned out, for me every age was a golden age for photography. Still true.

petermfiore

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2019, 11:42:05 am »

The "Golden age of Photography" was one reason for the death of the "Golden age of Illustration". For a million reasons it was so.

I entered the illustration world in the fall of '76, at the age of 20, with my first magazine illustration assignment. It was for a short story for Mc'Calls Magazine and I was paid quite well. Thinking back, I got paid one quarter of my dad's yearly salary. A sobering thought! I came from a very lower middle class family. I never thought it, nor felt that.

That first assignment put me on the map, and I started working for most of the women's magazines within a couple of months. I didn't know that the illustration world was shrinking and would be dead, as I knew it, within twenty years... It was great time for me. Life for me was exploding with possibilities. What a time it was.

I wouldn't trade that time for anything....

Peter
« Last Edit: October 26, 2019, 05:39:29 pm by petermfiore »
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Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2019, 01:04:54 pm »

The "Golden age of Photography" was one reason for the death of the "Golden age of Illustration". For a million reasons it was so.

I entered the illustration world in the fall of '76, at the age of 20, with my first magazine illustration assignment. It was for a short story for Mc'Calls Magazine and I was paid quite well. Thinking back, I got paid one quarter of my dad's yearly salary. A sobering thought! I came from a very lower middle class family. I never thought it, nor felt that.

That first assignment put me on the map, and I started working for most of the women's magazines within a couple of months. I didn't know that the illustration world was shrinking and would be dead, as I knew it, within twenty years... It was great time for me. I came from a lower middle class family. I didn't know, nor did I ever feel that. Life for me was exploding with possibilities. What a time it was.

I wouldn't trade that time for anything....

Peter

How right can you be!

And as bad, the middle-classes are being hit very hard on every front. The cars and watch that I could comfortably afford in the 70s would, today, be a wet dream for me, even if I were still picking up any work. As for buying the apartment I bought at the very start of the 80s, forget it! Maybe that's another reason the market here for what are essentially second homes has vanished with film. The prices sellers are forced to ask just to carry the five percent fee of estate agencies plus the VAT on top of that five percent, simply to come out of the sale still able to buy another, much cheaper home somewhere else; the taxes buyers have to pay on top of that, mean only real millionaires can play anymore. None of that, of course, includes the final roasting, when you try to repatriate the sale currency to another land outwith the euro.

The very poor were never in the game, and probably didn't give a damn about it either, which puts them, in a perverse kind of sense, in the same bag as the very wealthy: it doesn't really matter what prices are; their options have not changed one bit.

Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2019, 02:28:02 pm »

The "Golden age of Photography" was one reason for the death of the "Golden age of Illustration". For a million reasons it was so.

I entered the illustration world in the fall of '76, at the age of 20, with my first magazine illustration assignment. It was for a short story for Mc'Calls Magazine and I was paid quite well. Thinking back, I got paid one quarter of my dad's yearly salary. A sobering thought! I came from a very lower middle class family. I never thought it, nor felt that.

That first assignment put me on the map, and I started working for most of the women's magazines within a couple of months. I didn't know that the illustration world was shrinking and would be dead, as I knew it, within twenty years... It was great time for me. I came from a lower middle class family. I didn't know, nor did I ever feel that. Life for me was exploding with possibilities. What a time it was.

I wouldn't trade that time for anything....

Peter

For you, Peter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXm4NE7CFv0

Rob

DanLehman

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2019, 12:54:21 pm »

The "Golden age of Photography" was one reason for the death of the "Golden age of Illustration". For a million reasons it was so.
Aren't you positing the latter to be well within RobC's former?

Quote
I entered the illustration world in the fall of '76,
I became a bit attuned to illustrators via my library's selling off of a set of Soc. of Illustrators annuals --#25-6-8-&-9 (the silver ann. ed. was first fully in color, 1984).  Looking over availability of other volumes (I since bought #23 & #43 off of Amazon Marketplace), I was struck by one reviewer of recent editions who opined that the advent of digital technology (PS etc.) resulted in diminished quality, for him!  (I became a fan of Fred Otnes's collages.)  And which interest led to my remarking just recently to the WPost that they'd omitted credit for the 10/06 Travel Section cover illustration --to wit:

Quote

From: Dan Lehman
Subject: Who is Illustrator for 10/06 Cover art?!
...
Which somewhat brings to mind Lyonel Feininger?!

 - - - - -

Hello Dan, yes, the illustrator credit was left off in error.
Sean Loose did the cover illustration.

  [   see http://www.looseillustration.com/  ]

Thank you for your email! 


--dl*
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Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2019, 01:26:41 pm »

How right can you be!

And as bad, the middle-classes are being hit very hard on every front. The cars and watch that I could comfortably afford in the 70s would, today, be a wet dream for me, even if I were still picking up any work. As for buying the apartment I bought at the very start of the 80s, forget it! Maybe that's another reason the market here for what are essentially second homes has vanished with film. The prices sellers are forced to ask just to carry the five percent fee of estate agencies plus the VAT on top of that five percent, simply to come out of the sale still able to buy another, much cheaper home somewhere else; the taxes buyers have to pay on top of that, mean only real millionaires can play anymore. None of that, of course, includes the final roasting, when you try to repatriate the sale currency to another land outwith the euro.

The very poor were never in the game, and probably didn't give a damn about it either, which puts them, in a perverse kind of sense, in the same bag as the very wealthy: it doesn't really matter what prices are; their options have not changed one bit.

Irony: that was written on the 20th; on the 23rd I had that watch stolen from off my wrist.

Golden Age truly over and out for me.

Rob

petermfiore

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2019, 08:34:46 am »

Irony: that was written on the 20th; on the 23rd I had that watch stolen from off my wrist.

Golden Age truly over and out for me.

Rob

In time all goes...

Peter

Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2019, 11:04:15 am »

In time all goes...

Peter

Yes, that's true, Peter, but one might prefer to have some say on the timing!

Do you keep a stack of canvases, or do you manage to sell them all? Would you still produce them even if there was suddenly no market for them? I'm not wanting you to expose your business and soul here, just wondering whether there is a kind of rationale between production, possibly building up a stack of material, and thinking about slowing production down? Or, is the drive too strong to control with commercial logic?

My printer was abandoned by HP (a nice B9180 Pro that did great black/whites) and that more or less forced me to give up producing prints because after a while of dithering about, I realised that I had no intentions of spending more money on different, new machines and inks on what's now essentially hobby. Those boxes began to build up, and as I put the prints into archival sleeves, they no longer fit the original boxes in which the paper arrives. This could have become an early madness.

Maybe keeping files in a website is the best option for many of us. I have thought about the possible value to family of these prints, but there has been almost no demand for prints. If they don't want them now, for free, why would they want them after I'm dust? I see the little collection as an additional burden: yet more of Dad's junk over which to struggle with emotions of conscience and, ultimately, to be obliged to dump. Anyone who has had to face disposing of most of a loved one's stuff after their demise knows only too well the agony of that unavoidable kind of work.

I don't mean this to be gloomy; more do I think of it as an interesting situation that should perhaps be faced out of kindness towards those younger generations upon whose shoulders much gets saddled.

Rob

petermfiore

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2019, 04:41:45 pm »

Yes, that's true, Peter, but one might prefer to have some say on the timing!

Do you keep a stack of canvases, or do you manage to sell them all? Would you still produce them even if there was suddenly no market for them? I'm not wanting you to expose your business and soul here, just wondering whether there is a kind of rationale between production, possibly building up a stack of material, and thinking about slowing production down? Or, is the drive too strong to control with commercial logic?

My printer was abandoned by HP (a nice B9180 Pro that did great black/whites) and that more or less forced me to give up producing prints because after a while of dithering about, I realised that I had no intentions of spending more money on different, new machines and inks on what's now essentially hobby. Those boxes began to build up, and as I put the prints into archival sleeves, they no longer fit the original boxes in which the paper arrives. This could have become an early madness.

Maybe keeping files in a website is the best option for many of us. I have thought about the possible value to family of these prints, but there has been almost no demand for prints. If they don't want them now, for free, why would they want them after I'm dust? I see the little collection as an additional burden: yet more of Dad's junk over which to struggle with emotions of conscience and, ultimately, to be obliged to dump. Anyone who has had to face disposing of most of a loved one's stuff after their demise knows only too well the agony of that unavoidable kind of work.

I don't mean this to be gloomy; more do I think of it as an interesting situation that should perhaps be faced out of kindness towards those younger generations upon whose shoulders much gets saddled.

Rob
Rob,

I paint far more than what I sell...the making of the paintings is the art and the fun. Selling has nothing to do with being an artist. An artist makes things, because of the need to create. Whether or not they stick around after I'm gone, who knows. Selling is business and the side that my dealers are involved with.

Logic would have been that my sixteen year old self could have a much more sensible choice...But I'm glad he didn't...

Peter

RSL

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2019, 07:43:13 pm »

Hear, hear, Peter.

Rob C

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Re: RIP Robert FRANK (94)
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2019, 06:45:15 am »

Rob,

I paint far more than what I sell...the making of the paintings is the art and the fun. Selling has nothing to do with being an artist. An artist makes things, because of the need to create. Whether or not they stick around after I'm gone, who knows. Selling is business and the side that my dealers are involved with.

Logic would have been that my sixteen year old self could have a much more sensible choice...But I'm glad he didn't...

Peter


That's a great thought, but in my case, the sixteen-year-old was even more dumb than the guy he is today. Which proves that sometimes, enlightenment comes too damned late.

On the other hand, it was a great ride while it lasted, but the music stopped too soon and I found myself sitting on a cheap, chipped, painted wooden horse.

;-)
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