The article was about an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that was honoring the fiftieth anniversary of Frank's book, The Americans. Various towns were mentioned in the article where Frank visited and shot the images. Towns such as, Charleston, Detroit, Memphis, Hoboken, San Francisco and Miami Beach to name a few. Since I love black and white photography and I've never had a history of photography class, I though it would be a great reason to visit my favorite city. Also going there at Christmas just made the trip more enticing.
So then I started thinking. Maybe I could fly up and back in the same day, but if I did there would be no way that I could make the lecture that would be taking place 11:00. It was too chancy. Soon one day turned into two. I talked to friends about going with me and one in particular seemed interested, and that was Karen. She often accompanies me on my local shoots and even went with me to a show in Myrtle Beach. Karen was apprenhensive in the beginning because she still teaches and didn't want to take the days. I finally had to have a "come to Jesus" meeting with her and it worked!
Three and one half weeks later we were on our way to New York. We left Wednesday afternoon so we could be at the museum bright and early on Thursday morning. We were able to hear two lectures that morning. The first one was way out there and was called, "Surface Tension: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection." Although it was way out of the box, the associate pointed out some interesting facts. Did you know that you can take a photograph of a painting hanging in a museum (with permission and no flash please) and incorporate it into your own composition? Yep, you can. That was all I needed to hear to motivate me to spend some time later that day snapping Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet and Manet. I've got them all in my computer just waiting to bust loose in some future masterpiece.
Oops, two got loose. The first on is Monet. You can see his signature in the lower right corner.
Back to Frank. The lecture on his work was led by the curator of photography, Jeff Rosenheim. There was a huge group of people and 83 photographs to view. The lecture lasted over an hour and was extremely interesting. After working for Vanity Fair magazine, Frank came up with the idea to spend a year traveling the United States and photographing it's people in their day to day activities. In order to do this, he had to find a way to finance the project because he had a family and it was going to be costly. He applied for a Guggenheim Grant and was accepted. The grant, both the rough draft and the final copy were on display. In the application was the question, "What do you plan to do with the grant?", and his answer was "take pictures." I can't remember who the proofreader was, but it was rephrased in the final copy kinda like the way my mother "rephrased" my term papers, only on a different level. At one point the curator was replying to a question and said, "Robert thought that...," then he paused and looked around the room and said that he wanted to give the correct answer because sometimes Robert joined the crowd and listened to the lecture. What a hoot! He lives in Manhattan.
This is the cover of the book with an image taken in New Orleans. If you look closely, you will see that this image epitomised the south in the fifties.
Yes, it was worth the trip and yes, I bought the book. Aaaannnnnndddddd, I need to put more people in my shots...at least some of the time.