Sunday, July 19, 2009

Robert Frank: Cafe in Beaufort, South Carolina

A slice of Americana

"That crazy feeling in America when the sun is hot on the streets and music comes out of the jukebox or from a nearby funeral, that’s what Robert Frank has captured in tremendous photographs taken as he traveled on the road around practically forty-eight states in an old used car (on Guggenheim Fellowship) and with the agility, mystery, genius, sadness and strange secrecy of a shadow photographed scenes that have never been seen before on film. For this he will definitely be hailed as a great artist in his field. After seeing these pictures you end up finally not knowing any more whether a jukebox is sadder than a coffin. That’s because he’s always taking pictures of jukeboxes and coffins—and intermediary mysteries like the Negro priest swatting underneath the bright liquid belly mer of the Mississippi at Baton Rouge for some reason at dusk or early dawn with a white snowy cross and secret incantations never known outside the bayou—Or the picture of a chair in some cafĂ© with the sun coming in the window and setting on the chair in a holy halo I never thought could be caught on film much less described in its beautiful visual entirety in words."

--Jack Kerouac, from the introduction to the Robert Frank book of photographs entitled The Americans, published in 1959.

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