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The Robert Frank Collection

Giles Groulx, Mabou, Nova Scotia, 1978, 1990.28.28

Giles Groulx, Mabou, Nova Scotia, 1978, 1990.28.28

New York and Nova Scotia 1971–2005

In 1963 Frank became a United States citizen. In the decade following, however, he began to spend more time in Canada. After separating from Mary in 1969, he bought a house in Mabou on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, with artist June Leaf in 1970. He and Leaf married in 1975.

Frank endured a series of personal tragedies in the 1970s. First, his friend and film collaborator Danny Seymour disappeared while sailing to South America and was presumed dead. Then, in 1974, Frank's daughter Andrea was killed in a plane crash near Tikal, Guatemala. He suffered another loss when his son Pablo died in 1994.

Beginning in 1971, in response to his move to Nova Scotia and this series of tragedies, Frank returned to still photography. In 1972 he published The Lines of My Hand, a book that surveyed his career from its beginnings up to the 1970s. In 1974 he began to experiment with a Polaroid camera, and in 1975 he started to make collages using machine-made color prints shot with a Lure camera, an inexpensive plastic camera loaded with color film.

During these years, Frank frequently printed multiple negatives on a single piece of paper or combined numerous prints in one work of art using tape, glue, or even nails. He further disrupted the sanctity of the image by scratching text into his negatives and writing on his prints in bold, sometimes crude lettering. His photographs became intensely personal, exploring loss, memory, change, and continuity. They often featured his homes in New York and Mabou as well as charged comments: "Look Out for Hope"; "Be Happy"; "Fear/No Fear."

Photographs 1971–2005