I just got the coolest early Christmas present: Robert Frank’s London/Wales; a book that combines my love of travel, photography and London & Wales. How’s that for a trifecta?
In the early 1950’s – prior to his groundbreaking documentary, The Americans – Frank was shuttling back and forth between New York and Europe. Over a period of two years he visited London and became caught up in the shadows and fog blanketing a city still reeling from the destruction and deprivation of WW II. As the cover image below shows, his photos juxtapose class, wealth, and work: city workers in their top hats, delivery boys with their loads of coal, one side of the coin pretending the other side doesn’t exist. The next year – coincidentally just before the onset of the Welsh coal mines being nationalized – he traveled on to the town of Careau, and documented people whose lives were inextricably bound to their work. What could have easily become a romanticized – or exploitive – formal document is instead a sideways, almost casual, revelation of the worker’s humanity.