The Americans

Robert Frank, Funeral—St.Helena, South Carolina, 1955, gelatin silver print

“… On November 7, 1955, the Swiss photographer Robert Frank was arrested in McGehee, Ark. The police, hoping to ferret out a real live Communist, questioned him for four hours because, as they subsequently explained, he was foreign; he was Jewish; his car was “heavily loaded with suitcases, trunks and a number of cameras;” he had “foreign whiskey,” a “foreign box” of candy, and had given his kids “foreign names.”

If the cops were after political liberals, they had the right man. But Frank was an aesthetic subversive, not a Marxist one. At the time of his arrest, he was traveling around the United States on a Guggenheim fellowship, taking pictures for what he described as “a spontaneous record of a man seeing this country for the first time.” …”

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