The MoMA’s relationship with Robert Frank goes back more than a half century. Recognizing this uniquely important relationship, Robert Frank and his foundation, The Andrea Frank Trust, have donated all his unique film materials. These pre-print and print elements span the entirety of Frank’s film career, from his 1959 Beat psychodrama Pull My Daisy to his 2008 Fernando, a touching portrait of a Swiss artist friend. MoMA has been collaborating with Robert Frank, his editor Laura Israel, and The Pace Gallery on a multi-year effort to restore the significant remainder of his film and digital work.
No mere handmaiden to his photography, Robert Frank’s films have profoundly altered his approach to making images. Out of restlessness and a passion for experimental risktaking, Frank abandoned photography for filmmaking in the late 1950s. When he returned to still photography in the early 1970s, his work had become less precious and singular. Instead, he subjected his still images to a variety of manipulations: scratching and painting directly on the negative or emulsion surface, collaging and creating montages. The photographs began to resemble film sequences or storyboards: multiple frames of images with implied narratives and use of written texts as commentary. Films such as Conversations in Vermont (1969) and About Me: A Musical (1971), autobiographical portraits of family life and community, were direct antecedents to deeply personal, intimate projects such as his 1972 artist book The Lines of My Hand. And the films’ seemingly improvisational quality led to an interest in the immediate gratifications of Polaroids.
Robert Frank’s films include The Sin of Jesus, his 1961 adaptation of an Isaac Babel short story; OK End Here (1963), an intimate chamber piece featuring an original score by the great free jazz composer and musician Ornette Coleman; and Me and My Brother (1965-68), his first feature, a faux vérité involving Allen Ginsberg, Joseph Chalkin (founder of the off-Broadway Open Theater company), Peter Orlovsky and his catatonic schizophrenic brother Julius. They are an important documentary record of bohemian artist life in 1950s and 60s New York; tender portraits of friends; painfully raw confrontations with the personal tragedies of his daughter’s accidental death and his son’s mental illness; diaristic travelogues; and thoughtful interrogations of the artist’s own divided loyalties between work and family.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Sam Shepard, Robert Frank. F.: Robert Frank. M.: Robert Frank, Helen Silverstein, Bob Easton, Lynn Ratener. Int.: Julius Orlovsky (se stesso), Joseph Chaikin (Julius Orlovsky), John Coe (psichiatra), Allen Ginsberg (se stesso), Peter Orlovsky (se stesso), Virginia Kiser (assistente sociale), Nancy Fish (se stessa), Cynthia McAdams (attrice), Roscoe Lee Browne (fotografo), Christopher Walker (regista, doppiato da Robert Frank), Gregory Corso (se stesso). Prod.: Helen Silverstein per la Two Faces Company. DCP. Bn e Col
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