A rich new profile of photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank and his seminal work The Americans appeared in the July 2nd, 2015 New York Times. In 1955, with support secured by his mentor Walker Evans, the Swiss native Robert Frank began a series of road trips across America, visiting cities such as New Orleans and Los Angeles and more remote locales like Butte, Montana. Along the way he took 27,000 photographs and culled the lot down to 83 in his photographic monograph, The Americans, which was published in France in 1958 and the U.S. in 1960, with an introduction by Jack Kerouac.
Times reporter Nicholas Dawidoff calls Frank (at 90), “the most influential photographer alive” and writes that art critic Peter Schjedahl considers The Americans “one of the basic American masterpieces of any medium.” Writing about the perceptive work in the New Yorker Anthony Lane asks, “was there ever a book as full of looking as Robert Frank’s?”
On publication, The Americans was panned for its critical gaze. Over time it has been praised for its unflinching look at race relations and for seeking out moments that were typically unseen.
Learn more about The Americans and Robert Frank:
Books at Bailey/Howe
The Americans by Robert Frank, with an introduction by Jack Kerouac
“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.”
Looking in : Robert Frank’s The Americans by Sarah Greenough
“Looking In: Robert Frank’s “The Americans” celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of this prescient book. Drawing on newly examined archival sources, it provides a fascinating in-depth examination of the making of the photographs and the book’s construction, using vintage contact sheets, work prints and letters that literally chart Frank’s journey around the country on a Guggenheim grant in 1955-56.”
Postcards from the road : Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’ by Jonathan Day
“Jonathan Day has created a book that expounds, explores, and examines Frank’s work pictorially. Taking Frank’s iconic images as his point of reference, he shot new photographs that comment on the road and contemporary America.”
“Filmmaker Philippe Séclier decided to follow in Frank’s footsteps, retracing his path step by step. From Texas to Montana, from Nebraska to Louisiana, from New York to San Francisco, An American Journey is a 15,000 mile odyssey through contemporary America, moving between past and present, photography and cinema – beautifully capturing the wandering spirit of Robert Frank’s legendary journey.”
[UVM and FAHC affiliates can watch this documentary-length film online].
Around the web
The Man Who Saw America by Nicholas Dawidoff
New York Times, July 2, 2015
Road Show by Anthony Lane
New Yorker, September 14, 2009
Robert Frank’s Elevator Girl Sees Herself Years Later
NPR, August 30, 2009