Robert Frank My Family, New York 1951

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 402 The David Geffen Galleries

In 1947 Frank moved from his native Zurich to New York, where he found a new community with his fellow artists. While temporarily back in Switzerland in 1952, he assembled a group of his black-and-white photographs into a spiral-bound book, a maquette he titled Black White and Things. In arranging his images, Frank sought to express a broader range of emotion than was typical in the photojournalism of his era. A phrase from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince (1943) appears on a typeset page at the beginning:

it is only with the heart that one can see
what is essential is invisible to the eye

Beneath this Frank included the following statement:

sombre people and black events
quiet people and peaceful places
and the things people have come in contact
this, I try to show in my photographs

The thirty-four photographs in the book maquette are divided into three sections: “Black,” “White,” and “Things.”

Gallery label from 2023
Gelatin silver print
8 11/16 × 13" (22 × 33 cm)
Gift of Edward Steichen
Object number
© 2023 June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation

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