Robert Frank's 'The Americans'
The Art of Documentary Photography
Distributed for Intellect Ltd
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.
Foreword: Robert Frank
Part One: America and The Americans
1. Frank and the ‘50s
2. Developing The Americans
3. A Divided World: ‘Art’ and ‘Documentary’ Photography
4. The Creation, Selection and Programming of The Americans’ Images: All That Jazz
5. Image and Text
Part Two: Themes in The Americans
6. People of the Flag
7. On the Road
8. Losing My Religion: New Icons For a New Civilization
9. The Americans’ Response To The Family of Man Exhibition
10. The Americans and the Promotional Images of the Standard Oil Company
11. The Primacy of the Visual
Part Three: The Americans As a Photographic Sequence
12. Tracing the Lines of His Hand
Photographs in The Americans
"Jack Kerouac says in his introduction to The Americans, 'To Robert Frank I now give this message: you got eyes.' And now we have the words."