PHOTOGRAPHY: The Long, Winding Road

With one book, Robert Frank changed photography. Now a fine new show fills out the picture

To say that Robert Frank is among the most important living photographers is a statement so at odds with his rough-edged accomplishment that it obscures its own point. Frank is the genius of the marginal and the unofficial. The nondescript corner of some ratty diner in South Carolina, the smudged window that opens onto the dreariest rooftops in Butte, Montana, the vacant stare of an elevator operator in Miami Beach -- these are things the Swiss-born Frank decided were central to comprehending his adopted nation. Important is a funny word to attach to a man so suspicious of whatever is well...

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