He Who Asks Doesn’t Photograph
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Parts of two photos from a contact sheet from “The Americans”
Art

He Who Asks Doesn’t Photograph

A Conversation About the Legacy of Robert Frank
Ania Diduch, Wojtek Wieteska
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time 10 minutes

An anthology of out-of-focus photographs that became a masterpiece. An artist whose consistency predated the digital revolution by 50 years. An exhibition that was supposed to be a new opening and became a retrospective. Art historian Anna Diduch and artist Wojtek Wieteska discuss “Unseen”, an exhibition of Robert Frank’s work at the renowned gallery, C/O Berlin.

Anna Diduch: Robert Frank is a cult figure of 20th-century visual culture for me. But I am under no illusions that many people heard about him for the first time just one month ago, from the media coverage of his death. So I wonder seriously: who cares about Robert Frank these days?

Wojetk Wieteska: I think one answer could be as follows: I am a young photographer and I look around at what my contemporaries are doing (as they are the closest). Then I check out what my teachers or other professional artists are into. Then I look at some other, more distant photographer and then the next. Gradually, I widen the spectrum of my interest to other artists until, finally, I discover Robert Frank. I look about me and it turns out that I have scaled the Himalayas.

Przed wejściem do C/O Berlin - odbicie w lusterku jednego z plakatu promującego wystawę.
Przed wejściem do C/O Berlin – odbicie w lusterku jednego z plakatu promującego wystawę.
Z wnętrza wystawy - odbicie fotografii na stacji Zoologische Garten.
Z wnętrza wystawy – odbicie fotografii na stacji Zoologische Garten.
Wnętrze wystawy.
Wnętrze wystawy.
Wnętrze wystawy i fragment fotografii: Peru 1948.
Wnętrze wystawy i fragment fotografii: Peru 1948.

And at that moment you decide that you will never pick up a camera again, because Robert Frank has already done everything that can be done for storytelling through photography.

He didn’t do everything; there are many peaks in the Himalayas. Quite simply I mean that, at a certain moment, if you want to be a professional in your field, you must understand the landscape you are working in. You discover certain peaks and Robert Frank undeniably sits atop

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Also read:

The “Unseen” Photography of Robert Frank
Art

The “Unseen” Photography of Robert Frank

An Interview with Martin Gasser
Ania Diduch, Wojtek Wieteska

60 years ago, Swiss-American photographer Robert Frank’s photobook The Americans was published in the US. A series of striking images shot on the road, Frank’s collection cut through the country’s supposed post-war prosperity to show a side of American society ridden with anxiety, despair and loneliness. Jack Kerouac, the Beat poet who wrote the introduction to The Americans, put it thusly: “To Robert Frank I now give you this message: You got eyes.”

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