Influential photographer Robert Frank dead at 94

Karen Wada, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"Seeing 'The Americans' in a college bookshop was a stunning, ground-trembling experience for me," artist Ed Ruscha told Tate Etc., the international art magazine, in 2004.

"Frank creates movement with his camera and his subject in a truly original way," photographer Mary Ellen Mark said in the same issue. "He's a narrative photographer. Looking at his pictures is like watching a part of film; you can imagine what is happening around the frame."

Rather than embrace fame, the at-times-reclusive Frank often seemed to do what he could to avoid it. For a while, he thought of "The Americans" as an albatross. "He felt like a rock star expected to sing a certain song," Greenough said. Eventually, he came to appreciate the book but, loath to repeat himself, he remained eager to try new things.

Indeed, after "The Americans," Frank turned his attention to dramatic and documentary films and videos. Among the best-known is his controversial look at the Rolling Stones' 1972 North American tour. The Stones fought to prevent release of the movie with the unprintable title; Frank won the right to screen it under restricted conditions.

In 1972, Frank published the autobiographical photography book "The Lines of My Hand." He began to create Polaroid art, collages and images constructed, altered and scribbled on.

Robert and Mary Frank separated in 1969. Their daughter, Andrea, died in a plane crash in 1974. Frank expressed his grief in the 1980 film "Life Dances On...." In the 2004 "True Story," he included scenes from his life and work and correspondence from his son, Pablo, who died in 1994 after a battle with mental illness.

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Frank married artist June Leaf in 1975. For decades the couple lived in tiny Mabou, Nova Scotia, and New York.

In 2009, radio interviewer Bob Edwards asked Frank what tips he had for young photographers. "I'm not too much about talking or giving advice," he said. " 'Keep your eyes open' ... that's what I tell them."

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