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Robert Frank's fine flatulent black joke on American politics can be read as either farce or anguished protest. It is possible that Frank himself was not sure which he meant. In 1956, he was still a relative newcomer to the United States, and his basic reaction might well have been one of dumb amazement as he investigated the gaudy insanities and strangely touching contradictions of American culture.
BRASSAI took his name from the town of his birth, Brasso, in Transylvania, then part of Hungary, later of Roumania, and famous as the home of Court Dracula. He studied art at the academies of Budapest and Berlin before coming to Paris in the mid-twenties. He was completely disinterested in photography, if not scornful of it, until he saw the work being done by his acquaintance Andre Kertesz , which inspired him to take up the medium himself. In the early thirties he set about photographing the night of Paris, especially at its more colorful and more disreputable levels.
Are there affirmable days or places in our deteriorating world? Are there scenes in life, right now, for which we might conceivably be thankful? Is there a basis for joy or serenity, even if felt only occasionally? Are there grounds now and then for an unironic smile? For over four decades Robert Adams has photographed the changing landscape of the American West, finding there a fragile beauty that endures despite our troubled relationship with nature, and with ourselves. His photographs are distinguished not only by their economy and lucidity, but also by their mixture of grief and hope.