The AmericansFrank, Robert
The Americains This 1993 edition from cornerhouse is a quality reprint of this iconic edition. Signed on the inside title page by Robert Frank, Books signed by Robert Frank are as rare as hens teeth, and seldom seen. With the aid of his major artistic influence, the photographer Walker Evans, Frank secured a grant from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1955 to travel across the United States and photograph its society at all strata. He took his family along with him for part of his series of road trips over the next two years, during which time he took 28,000 shots. Only 83 of those were finally selected by him for publication in The Americans. Frank's journey was not without incident. While driving through Arkansas, Frank was arbitrarily thrown in jail after being stopped by the police; elsewhere in the South, he was told by a sheriff that he had an hour to leave town. Shortly after returning to New York in 1957, Frank met Beat writer Jack Kerouac on the sidewalk outside a party and showed him the photographs from his travels. Kerouac immediately told Frank 'Sure I can write something about these pictures, and he contributed the introduction to the U.S. edition of The Americans. Frank also became lifelong friends with Allen Ginsberg, and was one of the main visual artists to document the Beat subculture, which felt an affinity with Frank's interest in documenting the tensions between the optimism of the 1950s and the realities of class and racial differences. The irony that Frank found in the gloss of American culture and wealth over this tension gave Frank's photographs a clear contrast to those of most contemporary American photojournalists, as did his use of unusual focus, low lighting and cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques. This divergence from contemporary photographic standards gave Frank difficulty at first in securing an American publisher. Les Americains was first published in 1958 by Robert Delpire in Paris, and finally in 1959 in the United States by Grove Press, where it initially received substantial criticism. Popular Photography, for one, derided his images as meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness. Though sales were also poor at first, Kerouac's introduction helped it reach a larger audience because of the popularity of the Beat phenomenon. Over time and through its inspiration of later artists, The Americans became considered a seminal work in American photography and art history, and the work with which Frank is most clearly identified. In 1961, Frank received his first individual show, entitled Robert Frank: Photographer, at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also showed at MOMA in New York in 1962.