Framing the Truth

Half a century ago, Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank published a landmark book of 83 piercing photographs culled from the 25,000 (!) he’d taken in his travels around the U.S. in the mid-’50s. For the crime of revealing a populace untouched and uninspired by the much ballyhooed but often mythical postwar boom, The Americans was pilloried at the time as the work of a “joyless man.” A humorless artist, however, wouldn’t have then segued into films via a collaboration with Jack Kerouac. That groundbreaking work, Pull My Daisy, screens May 2 with two other early Frank shorts in the opening program of the Robert Frank Retrospective, a near-complete, two-month survey of the enigmatic artist’s avant-garde narrative films. (The missing piece is Cocksucker Blues, his infamously intimate record of the Rolling Stones’ hedonistic 1972 tour which, by court order, can be shown only with the director in attendance.) A peripatetic filmmaker, always probing for uncomfortable truths, Frank challenges viewers to witness, to interpret, and to deny their complicity. The same impulse fuels the 83 iconic Americans images, reassembled for a 50th anniversary exhibition opening May 16.
May 2-June 27, 3 p.m., 2009

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