July 21, 2024

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.

Robert Frank

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