Lot 8
  • 8

Robert Frank

120,000 - 180,000 USD
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  • Robert Frank
  • 'Hoboken' (Parade)
  • signed, titled and dated in ink on recto
  • Gelatin silver print
oversized, signed, titled, and dated '1955' in ink in the margin, numerical notations in pencil on the reverse, framed, Bloom Collection and Pace Wildenstein MacGill labels on the reverse, 1955, printed later


Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, 1998


The Americans, no. 1

Sarah Greenough, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, cover, pp. 211 and 460, and Contact no. 1

'Robert Frank,' Aperture, 1961, p. 6

Willy Rotzler, ‘Der Photograph Robert Frank,’ Du, January 1962, p. 16

John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye, p. 155

Robert Frank, The Lines of My Hand (Yugensha), p. 56

LIFE Library of Photography: Documentary Photography, p. 168

Robert Frank (Aperture), cover

Robert A. Sobieszek, Masterpieces of Photography from the George Eastman House Collections, p. 247

Marianne Fulton, Eyes of Time: Photojournalism in America, p. 177

John Szarkowski, Photography Until Now, p. 258

Sarah Greenough and Philip Brookman, Robert Frank: Moving Out, pp. 111 and 175

Peter Galassi, American Photography, 1890-1965, p. 215

Lisa Phillips, The American Century: Art & Culture, 1950-2000, pl. 108

Peter Galassi, Walker Evans & Company, pl. 316

Cruel and Tender: The Real in the Twentieth Century Photograph (Tate Modern), p. 101

Robert Frank: Story Lines, frontispiece 3

Charlie LeDuff, 'Robert Frank's Unsentimental Journey,' Vanity Fair, April 2008, p. 165

Christian A. Peterson, Masterpiece Photographs from the Minneapolis
Institute of Arts
, p. 89

Jean Dykstra, 'Poetry of the Moment,' Art & Antiques, November 2009, p. 78

David Campany, The Open Road: Photography & The American Road Trip, p. 45

Peter Galassi, Robert Frank: In America, p. 107


This impressively large print, on double-weight, semi-glossy Agfa paper, is in generally excellent condition. In raking light, a tiny soft crease is visible in the left window area. There is slight waviness of the paper at the left and right margin edges. The lower left margin corner is creased, which does not affect the image in any way. The margin corners are somewhat bumped, and there appears to be an extremely faint soft horizontal crease parallel to the upper margin edge that does not affect the image. 'R.F.A.001.15' and '109-I' are written in pencil in an unidentified hand on the reverse.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Hoboken (Parade), like Political Rally – Chicago (Lot 11), portrays human figures obscured by the American flag in a way that is simultaneously abstract, documentary, and conceptual.  When Frank’s photographs were first included in standard histories of art, beginning in the late 1980s, it is not surprising that these two images, which might be described as proto-Pop, were the ones selected for illustration. They have a bold, graphic quality that has been described as ‘cartoon-like.’ Yet, the grit and grain of a dingy brick building in the present image anchors it in the reality of the day it was made—the celebration of the city of Hoboken’s centennial in March 1955. 

Frank structured The Americans in four parts, each beginning with the symbolically-charged American flag.  Hoboken (Parade) is the first photograph in the book and, as such, becomes emblematic of the whole.  The flag, constrained within the rectangle of Frank’s frame, becomes part of the tapestry of a dark urban landscape, and conveys a wholly different meaning from such images as Joe Rosenthal’s triumphant Flag Raising at Iwo Jima made ten years earlier.  With each repetition of the flag in the book—semi-transparent, hanging vertically, and torn and patched, in Jay, NY (Fourth of July) (Lot 4), or rendered as an illuminated plastic sign on a barroom wall in Detroit (Bar) (Lot 37)—Frank adds new shades of meaning that reflect the America of the 1950s. 

"This is a picture of two people who were standing behind one of the flags… They’re sort of hiding. . . [it is] a threatening picture" Robert Frank