New York

Liu Zheng

Yossi Milo Gallery

When Swiss émigré Robert Frank set out to document America for his laconic if pathos-laden photographic series “The Americans” in 1955, he encountered a society in the grip of postwar consumption, vitiated by racial inequalities and rampant class division. About as subtle as Tocqueville, Frank rendered ideological his documentation of an American odyssey through bus depots and Woolworth stores, presenting the sad reality of the everyday as a parade of typologies and archetypes. Stripped of pretense and drained of affect, his photographs offered the perfect antidote to Family of Man–style optimism. Yet for all his deadpan nihilism—his vision of an America democratic only in name—Frank’s title still nags.

Much to his credit, Frank’s project clearly informs Liu Zheng’s recent series “The Chinese” (1994–2002), without overwhelming it. Forty-six eighteen-inch square gelatin-silver prints of

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