Robert Frank (born 1924 in Zurich, Switzerland), is a renowned American photographer and filmmaker. His well-known photographic book, Les Américains (The Americans) from 1958, was acclaimed for its outsider's perspective of American society, and was influential in the post-war period.
Frank grew up Jewish in neutral Switzerland during World War II. At the age of sixteen he apprenticed himself to the photographer Hermann Segesser, who lived in the same apartment building as Frank's family. This was followed by an apprenticeship with Michael Wolgensinger, and soon after the war was over he immigrated to America where, like many of his contemporaries, he began his career taking fashion photographs for Harper's Bazaar.
Soon exasperated by this type of work, Frank began to travel both here and abroad. Encouraged by Walker Evans, he was awarded Guggenheim Fellowships in 1955 and 1956, which allowed him the freedom to travel throughout the United States, recording his thoughts and feelings about this vast country. His style was as uninhibited and innovative as Jack Kerouac's and Allen Ginsberg's, and his images, like their written word, came to epitomize the Beat Generation. [museum.cornell.edu]