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Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
ROBERT FRANK (1924- ) Idyll in the Woods, Spain. Silver print, the image measuring 13 3/4x9 1/4 inches (34.9x23.5 cm.), flush mounted to masonite, with a Museum of Modern Art Post-War European Photography circulating exhibition label with Frank's signature, in ink, and his typed credit and title, on mount verso. 1951
The Museum of Modern Art exhibition "Postwar European Photography" appeared at the New York institution from May 26-August 23, 1953. The exhibition then circulated to other museums, schools, colleges, and art associations, according to the museum's original press release. The more than 300 works were selected by Edward Steichen, then director of the Department of Photography, and included photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ernst Haas, Brassaï, and Bill Brandt, among many others.
In the release, Steichen is quoted as follows: "I believe this exhibition shows that postwar Europe is making a significant contribution to the art of photography. New names are added to the list of top-flight contemporary photographers. The work of these 78 men and women is a persuasive demonstration that photography of today overrides frontiers and language differences, has become a universal tedium of expression. European camera workers had to overcome economic problems bordering on the impossible. Yet in this exhibition we find the same wide range of fruitful probings and experiments in various directions characteristic of American work today. Their weaknesses and strength, their foibles and borrowings from other mediums also parallel our own. On occasion they show a resentment of the inevitable discipline of the medium as flagrantly as some of our younger photographers. The clear cut demonstrations by those of fuller experience show how well photography is uniquely qualified to record the image of the world we live in."
This elegant work by Frank varies somewhat from the photographer we know today, and yet also highlights his keen eye for relationships and the human condition. Considered in the context of the MoMA exhibition, the piece perhaps reflects a yearning for intimacy after a tumultuous period and an easing toward quiet human experience. The soft, nearly monochrome presentation show a practitioner exploring the possibilities of the camera, and a documentarian eager to capture the world around him.
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