Influential photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank has died at the age of 94. He died of natural causes on Monday night in Nova Scotia, Canada. His death was confirmed by his longtime friend and gallerist Peter MacGill.
He was best known for his book The Americans — a collection of black-and-white photographs he took while road-tripping across the country starting in 1955. Where the prevailing image of 1950s Americana was clean-cut excess and family fun, Frank’s photos were dark, grainy and free from nostalgia.
Frank was born in Switzerland in 1924. He came to the United States in his 20s, and later fell in with a crowd of artists who would become major Beat Generation icons, like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
The Americans wasn’t well-received at first, but eventually brought Frank a level of success he wasn’t wholly comfortable with. He began shooting experimental short films and autobiographical documentaries.
In one 1985 video called “Home Improvements,” he films his own reflection through a glass door and sums up his work: “I’m always looking outside trying to look inside. Trying to tell something that’s true. But maybe nothing is really true. Except what’s out there, and what’s out there is always different.”