October 5, 2009
Comparing Robert Frank and Emmet Gowin:
The Gravitas of the Negative
In my research paper I will be comparing Robert Frank and his book The Americans to Emmet Gowin and his book Photographs.
Robert Frank was an outsider looking in. Born in Switzerland and naturalized in the United States Frank traveled the United States looking for the soul of a country. His book The Americans is generally categorized as pessimistic and downbeat although there are photographs of beauty and faith. He searched for the real America and in doing so turned over a few rocks and saw the dark side of 1950’s America. America was on the fast track and inn many of the photographs there is the sense of the movement, immediacy, and spontaneity.
Emmet Gowin on the other hand is the quintessential insider. He was born in Danville, Virginia where most of the photographs in Photographs were taken. Most of the photographs were of his wife, Edith and her immediate family. The photographs were very personal and conveyed a sense of familiarity, closeness, and sensuality.
There is a clear difference in style, personality, and closeness to the subject between Frank and Gowin. I will discuss these sharp differences as well as a few similarities. A focal point of the paper will be family: Franks view of the American family and Gowin’s view of his wife and family.