Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - It's Wonderful to be Alive, Mabou

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Image of It's Wonderful to be Alive, Mabou

Robert Frank , (Nov 9, 1924–Sept 9, 2019)

It's Wonderful to be Alive, Mabou

24 in. x 31 1/2 in. (60.96 cm x 80.01 cm)

Medium and Support: lithograph on rag paper
Credit Line: museum purchase
Accession Number: 1994.2.6


Made during his now famous trip across America that resulted in the seminal series The Americans, Robert Frank’s piercing image of a souvenir shop at Hoover Dam (not included in the series) was made with the clarity of an outsider looking in. In a single image the Swiss photographer offers a succinct and insightful commentary on our changing and often conflicting attitudes toward the American West. The three cards—a view of the Grand Canyon, a photograph of the Hoover Dam, and an image of an atomic mushroom cloud—tell a complex narrative of terrain as dramatic wilderness, commodified touristic view, icon of technological achievement, source of power for human consumption, and military testing ground. A study guide of sorts to the uses of western land, Frank’s image is an indictment of human progress.

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