65: ROBERT FRANK, N.Y.C. Lower East-Side Puerto-Ricans,
N.Y.C. Lower East-Side Puerto-Ricans, circa 1954. Gelatin silver print. 12 7/8 x 8 1/2 in. (32.7 x 21.6 cm) Titled in ink by the artists, annotated 'The Americans 12 New York City' and '2696' in an unidentified hand in pencil, copyright credit and 'Robert Frank Archive' stamps on the verso.
PROVENANCE Robert Klein Gallery, Boston
LITERATURE Aperture, The Americans, 1969, pl.12 Delpire, Les Américains, 1968, pl. 12 Grove Press, The Americans, 1968, pl. 12 National Gallery of Art, Washington/ Steidl, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, 2009, p. 223, pl. 12 The Americans, 2009 p. 223, pl. 12 Pantheon, The Americans, 1986, pl. 12 Scalo/DAP, The Americans, 1995, pl. 12 Steidl, The Americans, 1998, pl. 12 Tate Publishing, Cruel and Tender: The Real in the Twentieth-Century Photograph, p. 107; for all, a variant-
Robert Frank’s N.Y.C. Lower East-Side Puerto-Ricans, circa 1954, depicts three young men, possibly in their teens, flirtatiously posing for Frank’s lens. In contrast with many of the images in The Americans, from which the current lot is a variant example, the subjects are directly interacting with Frank and not surreptitiously captured by his lens. In fact, the seven negative strips dedicated to the three young men reveal that Frank most likely spent some time with his subjects. In some frames the young men appear to be assembling in an empty lot, in others they jovially amble about the streets, and in most they assume different theatrical poses and gestures. They are continuously laughing and smiling, happy to be the subject of the camera. Depictions of racial minorities in mainstream media was scarce at the time and depictions of those of flamboyant nature even more so. The image marks a strong departure from the somber mood that resonated throughout The Americans. Frank was able to remind 1950s America that despite its adherence to misplaced stereotypes, much joy and livelihood was to be found among some of its most overlooked characters.