Saturday, August 22, 2015

Robert Frank, not Anne

Where: National Gallery of Art

When: through February 7, 2016

The library has put up a new exhibit in the West Building on photobooks.  These are books in which the majority of the content is photographs, what I might have called coffee table books before realizing there's an even more specific descriptive phrase available.

My issue with the last couple of these library displays is my issue with this one as well.  There are no wall notes to explain what you're seeing.  You just walk into the room, look at some items in the display cases, and walk out very little the wiser, unless you knew something about the subject before you arrived.

Granted, there is a pamphlet available that offers a wealth of information on what you're seeing, and this time, I took one.  I didn't have an enormous amount of time the day I went to the gallery, so I didn't read it while looking at the items; I figured I'd just have a gander at it before writing this post.

It's a lot of information - perhaps more than I really wanted to know about photobooks, truth be told.  Setting aside my quibble with the length, the information is quite helpful.  I realize that I need to allow some more time for these little shows, so that I can read the pamphlet in situ - treat it as a sort of portable version of wall notes.

Interestingly enough, I saw a piece I recognized - William Eggleston's photograph of the tricycle outside a tract house - what I call the "Giant Trike."  There's also a copy of Lee Friedlander's "American Monument," which I feel like I've seen at American Art.  If you remember this show - tell me in the comments!

Oh, the post title is a reference to the name of the display, "Photobooks after Frank."  When I first read it, I thought they meant Anne Frank and couldn't figure out what she had to do with photography.

Verdict: Now that I've figured out how to see these little exhibits, I think I'll appreciate them more.

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