Photography After FrankEssays by Philip Gefter
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Photography After Frank, a page-turning look at contemporary photography by New York Times writer and former picture editor Philip Gefter, takes Robert Frank’s pivotal 1950s photographs as its starting point. Charting the medium's trajectory through a variety of genres and practices, Gefter postulates that photography post-Frank has created a paradox: While the photographic image has brought us to a heightened awareness of the world around us, the constant representation of who we are has conspired against our natural state of innocence.
Gefter begins with Robert Frank's challenge to photography's formal objectivity with the grainy, off-handed spontaneity of The Americans. Next comes the challenge to the factual fidelity of "documentary" photography with the evolution of the "staged document." Other topics and themes include photojournalism; portraiture; the influence of collectors; and the market's effect on art-making, such as the spawning of super-sized prints. Gefter seamlessly interweaves Frank's legacy with the work of dozens of important artists who have followed in his wake, from Lee Friedlander and Nan Goldin to Stephen Shore and Sze Tsung Leong.
Philip Gefter was on staff at the New York Times for more than fifteen years, where his roles included page one picture editor and senior picture editor for culture. Early in his career Gefter was a picture editor at fortune and an assistant editor at Aperture. In 2010, he produced the award-winning documentary Bill Cunningham New York. The recipient of a Museum Scholar residency at the Getty Research Institute, he writes regularly about photography and is working on a biography of curator-collector Sam Wagstaff.