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Robert Frank – 20 Years in Mabou, Nova Scotia

‘mabou’ (words, nova scotia)

Andrea Mabou
Looking again at Robert Frank

Robert Frank -Sunday Salon Utata.org

In 1971 Frank bought an old fisherman’s shack in Mabou, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island. He began to divide his time between there and his loft in New York City. He took up his Leicas and bought a cheap Polaroid, and returned to still photography. The photographs he began to shoot in Mabou were, at first, relatively simple in composition, but they were significantly more introspective and personal than anything he’d done before. His earlier work was all about the external world; his new work was deeply internal. It was less about others and more about himself. It’s as if Frank began for the first time to use photography as a mode of personal expression. The photographs retain the air of melancholy that marked his more famous work, but the melancholy grew out of the style of the work—out of the photographer, it could be said—rather than from the subject matter.
Some of that grew out of his personal life. Frank’s son Pablo was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1970s, and eventually he required hospitalization. In 1974 Frank’s daughter Andrea died in an airplane crash in Guatemala. These personal tragedies clearly began to shape Frank’s work. It became more volatile and almost painfully personal.

The Fire Below Mabou January 1980
( Click to see large)

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