Robert Frank: Black White and Things
In the fall of 1952 Robert Frank made three identical copies of Black White and Things. Designed by Werner Zryd, each handmade book was 137/8 by 13 inches, had a spiral binding, and contained only original prints. Previously Frank had made two hand-bound books of photographs from his travels in Peru. In contrast to the Peru photos which fall into distinct thematic and geographic groups and which Frank arranged into a rhythmic sequence, the images in Black White and Things arise from different contexts.
The 34 photos were taken between 1948 and 1952 in various countries. As with Marys Book, dedicated to Mary Lockspeiser, Frank includes a quote from Saint- Exupérys The Little Prince, placing it at the beginning of Black White and Things: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. There are no captions, illuminating texts or explanatory sequences in the book; rather, Frank concentrates exclusively on the arrangement of the photos.
Within the books three sections black, white, and things groupings of situations, people and things give shape to the contradictions of human existence while also demonstrating Franks humor and irony.
In 1994 Scalo published Black White and Things in cooperation with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where one copy of the original hand-bound book is housed. This new 2009 edition has been redesigned with Robert Frank, however the sequence of photographs from the 1952 book has been retained.
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