Today I went to a museum.
We saw Robert Frank and Sophie Ristelhueber exhibits. We started with Robert Frank. There were two Robert Frank expositions, one of his influential book, The Americans and the other of his time in Paris during the après guerre. I spent a good amount of time in The Americans room.
The exhibit consists of a series of photos Frank took during the 1950’s when he travelled around the US with his family.
Something struck me about the exhibition. It was as if Frank was showing us scenes and images you weren’t usually supposed to see. The photos look like they were taken hastily– they are often off-centered and blurry.
As I sat and pored of Kerouac’s introduction to the published version of these photographs, I was struck by how there is a certain artistic and aesthetic unity in both the writing of Kerouac and the Frank’s photographs. A disjointedness. A quickness. An oral element to both works.
Part of this artistic frame of mind really appeals to me. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s direct. And yet, there is something lacking in it. A polished perspective, perhaps? In my mind, these two and others like them were reacting against high art, against stuffiness. I like that, but you can’t totally disconnect from the wisdom of the cannon.
So I’m undecided and intrigued. When I’m done with my current book, I’m going to read On The Road.
Anyway, we went upstairs to look at the Ristelhueber exhibit and I was impressed with her formal abilities, but dissapointed by the overtly political nature of some her work. I’m generally moving towards not liking specific political messages in most artistic forms–written and oral media are the best in my mind for dealing with politics.
What I loved about Frank’s exposition was the way he transcended his form and medium. He moved beyond an explicit political message, beyond the quick, direct mode of him and the beat poets. He expressed something profound about character.
I’ll get back to you about whether or not I think Kerouac can do the same thing.
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