Fourth of July, Jay, New York

Black and white photograph of outdoor event, two girls in white dresses walk under large American flag.
© Robert Frank

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  • Black and white photograph of outdoor event, two girls in white dresses walk under large American flag.

Date:

1954

Artist:

Robert Frank
American, born Switzerland, 1924–2019

About this artwork

In 1955 the Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank rented a secondhand car and, for the next two years, traveled with his 35mm Leica camera throughout the United States, capturing his impressions with the ironic distance of an outsider. Made possible by a Guggenheim Foundation grant (the first awarded to a foreigner), this photographic odyssey resulted in a landmark book, Les Américains, published in France in 1958. The brilliant technical “wrongness” of Frank’s gritty, rough, and graceless images represented a new and highly influential expressionistic approach to photographic observation. Meant to be viewed as a series, Frank’s photographs are filled with such Americana as luncheonettes and jukeboxes, tailfins and motels, and the American flag. Dominating this depiction of the nation’s annual birthday party, which Frank made before embarking on his trip around the United States, the star-spangled banner hardly waves bravely or freely. Instead it hangs down over a Fourth of July picnic, sheer and patched, like the bars of a prison. As the Beat writer Jack Kerouac noted in his introduction to the controversial 1959 American edition of Frank’s book: “With that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film.” Frank subsequently turned to filmmaking and returned to still photography upon his move to Nova Scotia in 1969.

Currently Off View

Photography

Artist

Robert Frank

Title

Fourth of July, Jay, New York

Origin

United States

Date

1954

Medium

Gelatin silver print, from "The Americans" (1955/56)

Inscriptions

Unmarked recto; verso unchecked

Dimensions

33.9 × 22.5 cm (image/paper); 45.9 × 30.5 cm (mount)

Credit Line

Photography Gallery Fund

Reference Number

1961.942

Copyright

© Robert Frank

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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