Looking in: Robert Frank’s the Americans
Published alongside the previously announced 384-page paperback edition of Looking In: Robert Frank’s “The Americans,” this definitive, expanded 544-page hardcover edition contains a plethora of additional materials–essential information for scholars and serious photo enthusiasts alike. Both editions are authored by the preeminent Frank scholar and National Gallery of Art curator Sarah Greenough, and both contain engaging essays by Anne Tucker, Stuart Alexander, Martin Gasser, Jeff Rosenheim, Michel Frizot, Luc Sante and Philip Brookman. However, the expanded edition also contains all of Frank’s contact sheets for The Americans, additional letters and manuscript materials, a chronology (and map) of Frank’s trips across America, a selected exhibition history and a preliminary sequence for the book with a chart comparing various editions in The Americans’ long international publishing history. First released in 1958-59, 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 author Sarah Greenough and her colleagues explore the making of The Americans as well as its roots in Frank’s earlier work, which is 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 versions. 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.
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