Friday, November 19, 2010

Photography: Robert Frank

This week in Art History 206 we covered Postwar to Postmodern, 1945-1980. Each week we submit our personal response the work we have the strongest reaction to. I chose this photograph by Robert Franks. I feel this excerpt from our textbook lends the image much more depth:

"Frank used his work to reflect his concerns about alienation and lack of spirituality in twentieth-century America. Drug Store, Detroit is characteristic of his national portrait of emptiness, alienation, and despair. Under a barrage of bold advertising, some 15 men order, among other items, artificial orange whips, each patron seemingly unaware of the others. On the other side of the counter dutifully serving the white males are African-American women, undoubtedly working for a minimum wage. Just as the cake is trapped in the airless foreground case, the waitresses seem trapped behind the counter in the drudgery of the menial jobs. The glare of bare florescent bulbs bouncing off linoleum, Formica, and plastic is a reminder of the period's deadening aesthentic of efficiency and modernity, while the monotonous lineup of jukeboxes on the counter opposite the patrons underlines the "sell, sell, sell" mentality of American business. It should come as no surprise that the downtown Detroit where this photograph was taken was largely destroyed during the race riots of the late 1960s." (Janson's History of Art, 8th Ed.)

Image - Drugstore, Detroit, 1955, © Robert Frank, from The Americans
Image Source - DIA (Detroit Institute of Photography) Blog


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