“On the 22nd of June 2016, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Robert Frank. I found him seated on his own outside of his home/studio at 7 Bleecker St. I was rushing through the city, fitting in multiple meetings with potential agents and magazines – in full hustle mode. Trying to find my place in the madness, I was still figuring out my way around Manhattan (I still am) and as I walked down the Bowery, I ended up at the cross section of Bleecker and I glanced to my right only to spot him.
“A week earlier, I had been commissioned to shoot a portrait of the actor Gabriel Byrne in Hell’s Kitchen and I remember feeling nervous about it all as he arrived on set. We got talking and I instantly felt comfortable in his company. We chatted about Dublin and New York and he was really obliging with his time as I figured out how best to photograph him. Just as I had set up and was ready to shoot, Gabriel looked up and asked me, ‘Who’s your favorite photographer?’ I was a bit spun out, caught off guard… but almost instantly replied ‘Robert Frank.’ Gabriel replied, ‘Oh yes. An incredible artist. He lives near enough to me on Bleecker St. He’s been there forever. Glen Hansard pointed out his place to me one night actually. I’d been walking past it for years…’
“Now I know this is some legit farfetched cosmic shit, but I genuinely feel somehow that him telling me about this location somehow planted a seed in my subconscious to make it to that exact street at that exact time. I got goosebumps when I saw him. As I approached, I felt really calm and I quietly said hello. He looked at a small book of my work and talked about how different Europe was to the US. After a few minutes I asked if I could shoot a quick portrait and he didn’t seem fussed either way. After that I shook his hand, looked him in the eye and told him his work had had a huge impact on me. He smiled and went back to watching the street. I walked to the subway with my head spinning. I had a plan to make a small zine from the photos I’d shot that day, but it never happened. This first photo was meant to be the cover of it.”
Words and Photograph – Rich Gilligan
RIP Robert Frank. 09/11/1924 – 09/09/2019