Allen Frame


October 7, 2022 - Loring Knoblauch

... Frame can turn a figure toward solitary contemplation, or add a layer of psychological tension or subtle romance to a passing encounter. In a sense, this control feels almost theatrical, with Frame orchestrating the scenes like stage sets; in practice, it was surely more improvisational than that, but the best of the moments feel elegantly synchronized, with action and atmosphere aligned in ways that support each other.

The more time I’ve spent looking at these photographs, the more I’ve become enthralled by their moods. Yes, this is a visual diary of sorts, with lives and friendships seen up close, but Frame hasn’t just made raw documentation for the sake of some misplaced adherence to authenticity and grit. Instead, he has allowed himself to infuse these pictures with serenity and longing, finding moments inside tumultuous young lives where something extremely subtle is taking place, and then opening up those instants into something freer. In this way, he’s made their spaces roomier and more unstable – cinematic, but also gently attentive to the things unspoken and only ephemerally visible.

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October 1, 2022

...Like photographers from his own generation, such as Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, and Philip- Lorca Di Corcia, his vision is highly cinematic, but in his case, the framing and mise en scène have also been influenced by theater. As Nan Goldin wrote about Frame for a show at Galerie Polaris in Paris in 1990:

He does the improbable by using the medium of the still image to sustain a non-linear narrative, a narrative not explicated but implied. He doesn’t define his relationships with his friends—his subjects—as a series of seized moments of frozen time but as a flow of shared experiences, interactions, and emotions. Through his pictures we experience the open-ended nature of each moment, all that went before and will come after, the tension of the revelation of things not yet realized.

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Allen Frame Press: PHOTOGRAPH, October  1, 2022 - David Rosenberg


October 1, 2022 - David Rosenberg

...Still, there is a precision to these images, a sense that Frame is deliberately investigating those liminal, transient moments in our lives. It’s hard not to look at these images and consider how they would have been taken and edited today, in a world in which our every moment is captured and shared. What is wonderful about the images in Whereupon is that we don’t need to know more. We have been given an introduction to the lives of these subjects, and that feels like enough.

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Allen Frame Press: APARTAMENTO, May 20, 2022 - Allen Frame remembers an artist, DARREL ELLIS


May 20, 2022 - Allen Frame remembers an artist, DARREL ELLIS

I first met Darrel Ellis in 1981. I was 30 and he was almost 23. He had just broken up with the actor José Rafael Arango and we were at an East Village neighbourhood gay bar called The Bar, at 2nd Avenue and East 4th Street, half a block from José’s apartment. The Bar had been in existence just a few years and had become a popular, low- key hangout with a pool table and jukebox, notable for the actors, artists, and writers who frequented it, including Peter Hujar, John Heys, Bill Rice, Jim Neu, Frank Franca, Bob Gober, Dieter Hall, Ken Tisa, Alvin Baltrop, Stephen Barker, and many others. That night at The Bar I brought Darrel home to my fifth-floor walk-up apartment in the West Village, which I shared with my roommate, an actress from Mississippi named Butch Walker. The bathtub was still in the kitchen. Our relationship started romantically but was very short-lived and quickly changed into a friendship..

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November 1, 2021 - Megan N. Liberty

Allen Frame's Fever
Photographs from 1981 illustrate the artist’s archival care for his community.

...For Frame, this act of archival care carries special weight, since his own creative community’s legacy was disastrously impacted by the AIDS crisis. Curator and scholar Drew Sawyer sets the context for this body of work with his opening essay, focusing on Frame’s milieu and distinct use of color photography: “Part of the pleasure of these photographs for present-day viewers might come from recognizing well-known artists such as Robert Gober or Cady Noland. What made Frame’s psychologically imbedded pictures radical at the time was his use of color and his focus on the private lives of a queer community.” The photographs capture the moment, in the 1980s in downtown New York and Brooklyn, just before there was any awareness of AIDS, how it would remain ignored for so long, and how it would rip through the lives of those pictured. As Frame reflects in the monograph, “We were full of joy and hopefulness about our lives, about what we would accomplish creatively, about our close-knit relationships.”...

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VOGUE Italia

July 18, 2021 - Vince Aletti

This Is Not a Fashion Photograph. Allen Frame

..."the pictures in Fever seem to draw upon an earlier influence: Italian postwar cinema, notably Michelangelo Antonioni. The looseness, spontaneity, and natural light in Frame’s work combines the immediacy of the snapshot with film’s wide-screen impact for a sense of emotional intimacy that’s contained but never cramped."

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June 28, 2021 - Jessica Robinson


In 'FEVER,' Allen Frame's candid 1981 photos capture a time of hope and innocence—and they are all the more tragic for it

In a new book of color photographs, all shot in 1981, Allen Frame revisits a time that gave rise to an aesthetic that was distinctly New York. A circle of friends, many—though not all—gay men, made art at a specific moment in city’s history, though perhaps not what you’d expect.

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BLIND Magazine

May 26, 2021 - Miss Rosen

A Portrait of the New York Art Scene
Just Before the Advent of AIDS

A new book and exhibition revisit downtown New York in 1981 and capture the face of a lost generation just before the pandemic struck.

...Frame’s photographs, which combine the immediacy of the snapshot with the timeless sensibilities of fine art, preserve the face of a lost generation. Here, we see a world filled with possibility and hope, the hallmarks of youth made all the more poignant by the sense that they cannot begin to imagine the terrors the future will hold.   

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DEAR DAVE interview

March 12, 2021 - STEPHEN FRAILEY

In my photographs there's an inherent reality that we see, real people in real situations, not actors in a film or play that I’m directing or writing. I acknowledge that reality, but of course, I shape it, with various decisions of framing, editing, sequencing. I want to acknowledge my subjectivity, too, my projections onto people and situations. What is exciting to me is the mixture of the two, the coming together of some "objective" reality and "subjective" experience. I title images with the actual subjects' names, the actual location, the actual date, but what seems to be going on in the photograph may not reflect the actual circumstances.

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December 17, 2020 - Brendan Embser

1981, NYC

It was a time like our own. A young man comes to New York and wants to be an artist. A president wants to make America great. A doctor sounds an alarm. A health crisis looms, like an overture in a minor key, but everyone goes to a bar called the Bar and a gallery called Fun.
There was a difference between uptown and downtown then. Allen Frame had grown up in Mississippi and lived in Boston, and, in 1977, when his friends were moving to New York, he moved there too. After living in a gay rooming house in Brooklyn, he found a place downtown on Perry Street in the West Village. He cleaned apartments for enough cash to get by, and he didn't need much because rent was cheap. Frame had time for friendship, for art and sex. He met other gay men who were artists and writers, and each brought references and experiences and ambition to the scene. He had his first boyfriend. "It was like heaven," he said...

get your own copy of Aperture 241 HERE

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July 10, 2019 - Loring Knoblauch

Two works in Allen Frame’s new show use vernacular photographs that he discovered during a recent year-long residency in Rome as the jumping off point for hybrid wall-filling installations that put the found images into dialogue with his own photographs. The open-ended mysteries of the anonymous vintage photographs offered Frame the opportunity to graft his own interpretations onto the scenes, and he then went on to expand those themes further, twisting past and present into intimately coupled meditations...

The subtle codes of human attraction that inform the two installations are generally absent from Frame’s larger color images. The pictures instead capture pauses – the in-between moments that happen just before and after something else. Ivana looks out of a widow that could be a painting of the Italian countryside, Ugo checks his phone as he walks down the repaired stairs of an older stone balcony, and Pietro sits on the edge of a swimming pool, looking to his right out of the frame. The photographs linger, and that slowness provides space for vicariously stepping into the lull.

In many ways, these pictures are all testing Frame’s ability to find a particular emotional pitch and stay there, allowing it to blossom and expand into something more complex and intricate. In each of these works/projects, he’s trying to capture invisible restlessness, and attempting to freight his understated scenes with a tiny slice of agitation. When he successfully plucks that string, his pictures shimmer with unseen vibrations.

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June 20, 2019 - Elin Spring


Fantastic Views

In his three-part exhibit “Suddenly,” Allen Frame’s photographs in Italy build narrative fantasies that draw upon foreign films, theater, southern American literature and his 2018 year-long residency in Rome. Frame starts with and improvises on found Roman photographs from the 1960’s, adding his own scenes with characters who all seem to be anticipating or searching for something. The salon-style grouping “Giuseppe,” a seeming travelogue featuring a strapping sunbather and his friends, the elegantly subdued and ornately framed B&W series “Suddenly” (referencing Tennessee Williams’ 1958 play Suddenly Last Summer) and Frame’s single color photographs of individuals in sun-drenched recreational scenes, all feature a subtle homoerotic charge. With an adroit dichotomy of restrained, often pensive characters in bright, open compositions, Frame’s narratives tease like film stills, building suspense and desire.

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Interview: ALLEN FRAME

May 2, 2019 - Brainard Carey

Interview from Praxis Interview Magazine on Yale University Radio WYBCX 

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Allen Frame Press: ARTFORUM, February  1, 2019 - Matthew Weinstein


February 1, 2019 - Matthew Weinstein

curated by LIA GANGITANO

Innamorato,” an exhibition by the writer, filmmaker, and photographer Allen Frame, was dominated by Ennio, 2018, a room-size installation made up of more than fifty found Italian Mussolini-era photographs of an air force pilot, his sister, and a handsome young man. The pictures, hung salon style, were set into a variety of secondhand frames. The subjects of the photos appeared well off, beautiful, and youthful. They could be seen with skis in the mountains and cavorting on beaches, bringing to mind the bourgeois family in Vittorio De Sica’s 1970 film The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.

Seven photographs of Ennio were printed by Frame from negatives he purchased along with the photos.  Every portrait is full body, and in each one he is ready for pleasure, be it in sun or snow. Is he an object of desire for whomever took the pictures? Is it the handsome friend who yearns for him? Or is it the artist, who rescued these people from the obscurity of a flea market? Or could it be us? Perhaps it’s all of the above. Included in the installation were hand-written passages in Italian taken from Absalom, Absalom! (1936), William Faulkner’s tale of a sibling love triangle—thus revealing the narrative that Frame projected onto the images.

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Magic Hour Podcast

December 14, 2018 - Jordan Weitzman

Episode Length: 51:07
Air Date: November 26, 2019

It was the last day of Allen Frame's show Innamorato at the Pratt Gallery in Brooklyn, and it was my first stop from La Guardia when i arrived on that day. I remember one print hanging on the wall that I immediately gravitated to - Tito, Florence, 1997 - a photo which I’ve always loved, which feels so intimate, even though it’s made at a distance.’ A charming southern fellow in the gallery introduced himself, ‘Allen Frame, nice to meet you.’ I smiled and we ended up talking for about an hour that day going down rabbit holes ranging from the Italian seaside, where he had just made new work, to Charles Henri Ford’s attic apartment in the Dakota, to William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom - a story he hadn’t read since college, amazed at how homoerotic a narrative it had.

Allen Frame is a fascinating figure within the world of photography. He cut his teeth in the early 70’s in Boston with his friends David Armstrong and Nan Goldin, whom he met at Immageworks, a photo program he enrolled in while attending Harvard. He’s made his own pictures on and off over the course of five decades, but he’s also worked in the theatre, adapting the writing of David Wojnarowicz and acting in Garry Indiana plays. He’s written for publications like Bomb and the New York Times, he’s taught at Pratt, SVA and ICP, and he’s worked in curatorial capacities.

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image: Allen Frame, Sunnyside, Queens, 2019. Photo by Jordan Weitzman


Division Review

November 21, 2017 - Tim Maul

On the Photography of Allen Frame

Selecting images from DETOUR/ALLEN FRAME (Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 2001) involved engaging with a dark, elegant publication that draws a curtain on a world where sign languages of eros are embedded within a languorous drift of grain. Frame’s CV as an photographer, educator, performer, and film producer could fill this allotted space; most significantly Frame is a surviving member of the 1970’s ‘Boston School’ of artists and photographers whose historicization accelerated from the ongoing AIDS epidemic which so decimated its ranks. Its photographers include revered cultural figures such as David Armstrong, Mark Morrisoe, Jack Pierson and Nan Goldin. Now mythic, they exemplified a louche but socially determined LBGTQ clique originating in Boston with branches in Provincetown, NYC, London, and Berlin during that fabled age of cheap rents, cheap international flights, and endlessly accommodating friends of friends.

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The Creative Independent

July 19, 2017

Allen Frame: On Following Your Curiosity

From a conversation with T. Cole Rachel

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The New Yorker Photo Booth

November 8, 2013

In 2008, New Directions approached the photographer Allen Frame, hoping to use one of his photographs on the cover of their new translation of “Last Evenings on Earth,” by the late Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. That year, a fated match was made.
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American Suburb X

October 7, 2013

Raphael: Allen, you’ve accomplished a number of things in your career: photographer, curator, writer, director, producer of a highly acclaimed movie, called Four, which received awards at the Los Angeles, Urbanworld, and New Orleans Film Festivals. Let me ask you… are there enough hours in the day for you?
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Saint Lucy

January 17, 2012 - Mark Alice Durant

I met Allen Frame at a photography auction at Sotheby’s to benefit an arts education program in Afghanistan. While I shook his hand in greeting, I was holding under my arm Allen’s photograph that I had bid on and purchased.  The image was of a non-descript statue hovering over a frozen landscape in Russia viewed though an icicle-streaked window.  Beyond its bleak beauty, the image crystallized my vague interest in public monuments; how long-forgotten figures in stone or bronze stand as sentinels to half-remembered histories.  I was moved by the loneliness of figures unmoored from the narratives that gave them meaning. Even their often-intimidating scale served to underline the impotent attempts to inspire. Allen’s image catalyzed the ideas that became an exhibition I curated at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2008, Notes on Monumentality and the subsequent related essay in Aperture, Photography and Monumentality...

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Art in America

June 1, 2010

Frame’s images appear stripped down and radical in both their suspension of narrative drive and absence of overtly biographical impulses, yet they are deeply personal.
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Allen Frame Press: The New Yorker, September 14, 2009 - Vince Aletti

The New Yorker

September 14, 2009 - Vince Aletti

Frame’s big, handsome color photographs of friends and lovers are not unlike the black-and-white images he’s shown previously; they’re subtle, intimate, and often quite dark, with a painterly feel for the chiaroscuro effects of shadow and light. But color, nearly always burnished by the sun, adds warmth to the work and draws us deeper into the circumscribed spaces he uses to frame his subjects. Most of them are alone in a dimly lit room, sometimes no more than silhouettes before a window, and even when they’re outdoors they appear delineated by landscape or architecture, in a style that recalls David Hockney. Frame also shares Hockney’s sense of casual refinement, but he adds a bright spark of erotic possibility to temper the darkness.

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Allen Frame Press: The Village Voice, June  1, 2005

The Village Voice

June 1, 2005

Dark, brooding, intimate, elegantly sexy, infinitely suggestive of the possible—no, I don't mean five minutes with Colin Farrell, but close—the gorgeously mysterious photographic works of Tear Sheet contributor ALLEN FRAME are as beautifully elusive as they are defiantly straightforward. Or maybe they're just the opposite. Anyhow, fly in the face of interpretation and see the yourself at Gitterman Gallery. 

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Allen Frame Press: Art on Paper, May  1, 2005 - Jean Dykstra

Art on Paper

May 1, 2005 - Jean Dykstra

Allen Frame's dark, grainy photographs of friends and acquainteances have an ephemeral, almsot fragile quality.

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Allen Frame Press: New York Sun, April 18, 2005

New York Sun

April 18, 2005

Allen Frame photographs his friends and acquaintances in situations that are not fully staged but not as casual as they appear at first glance, either.

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The Village Voice

April 13, 2005

The tension between the kind of casual, intimate situations I like to shoot and the very stylized, even elegant compostions is one of two extremes meeting.

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