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Photographs by Robert Frank. Introduction by Jack Kerouac.
Steidl / The Robert Frank Project, Gottingen, 2008. 180 pp., 83 tritone illustrations, 8¼
On May 15, 1958, the first edition of Robert Frank’s
was published in Paris.
was part of a series of books which presented foreign countries through words and pictures. It contained Frank’s 83 photographs in the same sequence as all subsequent editions, with the image on the right hand page juxtaposed with texts from American social and political history, gathered by Alain Bosquet. The following year in the first American edition, the French texts were removed and an introduction by Jack Kerouac was added. Over the subsequent 50 years,
has been republished in many editions, in numerous languages, with a variety of cover designs and even in a range of sizes. It is the most famous photobook ever published, and it changed the face of the medium forever.
Robert Frank discussed with his publisher, Gerhard Steidl, the idea of producing a new version using modern scanning and the finest tritone printing. The starting point was to bring the original prints to Göttingen, Germany, where Steidl is based, from New York.
In July, 2007, Frank visited Göttingen. A new format for the book was worked out and new typography selected. A new cover was designed and Frank personally chose the book cloth, foil for embossing and the endpaper. Most significantly, in the process of working out the layout of the photographs on the page, Frank chose to reproduce un-cropped examples of the photographs when available. Two images were changed completely from the original 1958 and 1959 editions. Then, on a sunny day in July of 2007, the presses started rolling and Robert Frank personally supervised the printing of this latest edition of
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