In 1961 with The Americans, the Art Institute of Chicago became the first museum to accord Robert Frank (American, born Switzerland 1924) a solo exhibition. The museum’s photography curator at the time, Hugh Edwards, purchased 30 photographs from this now-legendary series for the permanent collection, and in 2000, the artist generously gifted a further 38 photographs—works that were openly personal and very different from his chronicling of the state of the country in The Americans.
This exhibition dedicated to Frank opens with a special pop-up presentation, conceived by the celebrated photographer and his longtime publisher, Gerhard Steidl. The two-week-only display includes 29 photographs by Frank, drawn from the museum’s latest acquisition of the artist’s work, his 2014 book, Partida. A compact “full-career” retrospective surrounds it, featuring reproductions on newsprint banners tacked to the wall, films projected from portable video “beamers” onto newsprint, and books hung in midair across the gallery. On May 26, the pop-up elements will be replaced with photographs chosen from the artist’s gift to the museum in 2000. Meanwhile, a companion exhibition, The Photographer’s Curator, surveys the breadth of Edwards’s tenure at the Art Institute.
Steidl himself is traveling from Germany to install the pop-up exhibition May 11–12. Visitors are encouraged to observe this process as it occurs and to return for the deinstallation May 26. On May 25, Steidl delivers the third annual Hugh Edwards Lecture, which is free and open to the public.
This exhibition is made possible by The Jane P. Watkins Fund of the Schwab Charitable Fund and The Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund.