Robert Frank's The Americans.
Photography by Robert Frank; edited with text by Sarah Greenough.
Nat. Gallery Of Art, Wash./Steidl,
360 pp., 86 color and 280 tritone illustrations., 9¼x11½".
The hardbound edition is now in its second printing.
First released in 1958, Robert Frank’s seminal work, The Americans, is without
question the single most important photographer’s book published since
World War II, and it continues to be profoundly influential, inspiring countless
photographers around the world. This catalogue and the traveling exhibition it
accompanies mark the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publication. Looking In:
Robert Frank’s “The Americans” provides a fascinating, in-depth examination of
the making of the photographs for the book and its actual construction, using
vintage contact sheets and work prints that literally chart Frank’s journey
around the country on a Guggenheim grant in 1955-56. Curator and editor
Sarah Greenough and her colleagues explore the making of The Americans as
well as its roots in Frank’s earlier books, which are abundantly illustrated here,
and in books by photographers Walker Evans, Bill Brandt and others. The 83
original photographs from The Americans are presented in sequence in as near
vintage prints as possible, and a later section visually demonstrates the differences—
in image selection, cropping and sequencing—between the original
maquette for the book and its published version. The catalogue concludes with
an examination of Frank’s later reinterpretations and deconstructions of The
Americans, bringing full circle the history of this resounding entry in
the annals of photography.