May 27, 2021 - Sale 2570

Sale 2570 - Lot 233

Price Realized: $ 52,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 70,000
ROBERT FRANK (1924-2019)
Covered Car, Long Beach, California. Silver print, the image measuring 8 3/4x13 1/4 inches (22.2x33.7 cm.), the mount 18x22 inches (45.7x55.8 cm.), with Frank's signature, inscription, and print date, in ink, on mount recto. 1955-56; printed 1971

The inscription reads "For the Workshop - for Linda - for the Palm-Trees and for photography."

Additional Details

Acquired from the photographer when Frank was a visiting artist at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York in 1971.

Robert Frank, a photographer who is indelibly associated with the inequity, grit, beauty, and paradox of the American social landscape, included a number of images featuring cars in his seminal photo book "The Americans." In his vision, Americans are on the road together, alone, for pleasure, out of necessity, sometimes in gleaming autos, sometimes a blur of speed and joy, sometimes a means of endured transport, sometimes a means of finding connection with others, sometimes a means of displaying and establishing identity. Memorably, the last image in the volume features Frank's family huddled in a car ("U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas"), a marker of his own cross-country road trip to make images, and his own relationship with an automobile.

This one, shrouded and situated under two looming palm trees, its form made distinct and hard in the California light, is the most iconic. The folds of the cover offer an elegant visual counterweight to the rest of the composition, the draping lines and the gleaming textile subtly suggesting their own sensuality. The image seemingly speaks to 1950s economic comfort and to the glamerous (if mysterious) California lifestyle, while simultaneously offering a sly commentary on our national obsession with cars.

Jack Kerouac, in his iconic introduction to "The Americans," comments on this photograph: "Car shrouded in fancy expensive designed tarpolian to keep soots of no-soot Malibu from falling on new simonize job as owner who is two-dollar-an-hour carpenter snoozes in house with wife, and TV, all under palm trees for nothing, in the cemeterial California night."

Frank, "The Americans," no. 77.
Greenough, "Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans," p. 250.
Greenough, "Robert Frank: Moving Out," p. 187.
Bayer, et al., "Concerning Photography: Some Thoughts About Reading Photographs," p. 52.
Galassi, "Walker Evans & Company," pl. 102.
Green, "American Photography: A Critical History 1945-Present," p. 169.
Hinson, "The Cleveland Museum of Art: Catalogue of Photography," p. 167.
Papageorge, "Walker Evans and Robert Frank: An Essay on Influence," p. 45.
Szarkowski, "The Photographer's Eye," p. 26.