In the mid-1950s, Swiss-born New Yorker Robert Frank embarked on a ten-thousand-mile road trip across America, capturing thousands of photographs of all levels of a rapidly changing society. The resultant photo book, The Americans, represents a seminal moment in both photography and in America's understanding of itself. To mark the book’s fiftieth anniversary, Jonathan Day revisits this pivotal work and contributes a thoughtful and revealing critical commentary. Though the importance of The Americans has been widely acknowledged, it still retains much of its mystery. This comprehensive analysis places it thoroughly in the context of contemporary photography, literature, music, and advertising from its own period through the present.
Previously published in 1959, Frank's most famous and influential photography book contained a series of deceptively simple photos that he took on a trip through America in 1955 and 1956. These pictures of everyday people still speak to us today, 40 years and several generations later.
This book, based on the Frank collection at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, focuses on his American work. Its sequence of 131 plates integrates twenty-two photographs from "The Americans" with more than 100 images to chart the major themes and pictorial strategies of his work in the United States in the 1950s. The text reconsiders Frank's first photographic career and examines how he used the range of photography's 35mm vocabulary to reclaim the medium's artistic tradition from the hegemony of the magazines.
"Writing from New York in March 1949, Robert Frank sent home to his mother in Switzerland a birthday gift of a book maquette of a series of photographs he had made during a visit to Peru. Frank made an identical book for himself and one of each of these two dummies now resides in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and National Gallery of Art, Washington." "A few of these images are well-known in Frank s oeuvre but previously the entire series had only ever been seen by a small number of people. This book presents for the first time the complete sequence of images, based on the original book Frank had conceived and realised under his direction. Peru is a work of major historical significance in both the artist s history and the history of photography."--BOOK JACKET.