AMERICANS ENGLISH EDITION Hardcover – Nov 21 2008
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Armed with a camera and a fresh cache of film and bankrolled by a Guggenheim Foundation grant, Robert Frank crisscrossed the United States during 1955 and 1956. The photographs he brought back form a portrait of the country at the time and hint at its future. He saw the hope of the future in the faces of a couple at city hall in Reno, Nevada, and the despair of the present in a grimy roofscape. He saw the roiling racial tension, glamour, and beauty, and, perhaps because Frank himself was on the road, he was particularly attuned to Americans' love for cars. Funeral-goers lean against a shiny sedan, lovers kiss on a beach blanket in front of their parked car, young boys perch in the back seat at a drive-in movie. A sports car under a drop cloth is framed by two California palm trees; on the next page, a blanket is draped over a car accident victim's body in Arizona.
Robert Frank's Americans reappear 40 years after they were initially published in this exquisite volume by Scalo. Each photograph (there are more than 80 of them) stands alone on a page, while the caption information is included at the back of the book, allowing viewers an unfettered look at the images. Jack Kerouac's original introduction, commissioned when the photographer showed the writer his work while sitting on a sidewalk one night outside of a party, provides the only accompanying text. Kerouac's words add narrative dimension to Frank's imagery while in turn the photographs themselves perfectly illustrate the writer's own work. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this 50th anniversary reissue, celebrated photographer Frank maintains the format (left page: brief caption, right page: photo) and introduction (Jack Kerouac: "with the agility, mystery, genius, sadness and strange secrecy of a shadow Frank photographed scenes that have never been seen before on film"), the images themselves have been re-scanned, re-cropped by Frank and, in two cases, changed. Frank's images, taken all across the country, leave the viewer with a solemn impression of American life. From funerals to drug store cafeterias to parks, Frank recorded every shade of everyday life he encountered: the lower and upper classes, the living and dead, the hopeful and destitute, all the while experimenting with angle, focus and grain to increase impact. Preceding an exhibition that will tour U.S. galleries in 2009, this volume will no doubt introduce new generations to Frank's inimitable record of daily life fifty years ago. Kerouac says, fittingly, that "after seeing these pictures you end up finally not knowing any more whether a jukebox is sadder than a coffin"; those who don't comprehend Kerouac's comment have yet to experience this classic collection. 83 tri-tone plates.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the Scalo version, the place-name captions have been removed from the pages opposite the photographs and collected in the back of the book. Forget any ideas you might have of Frank's book being a travelogue. In place of the itinerary, the Scalo edition finally establishes the ORDER of the book's photographs as the crucial ingredient in Frank's complex vision of America. The 83-photograph sequence cuts between elliptical narrative of the open road and comparative sociology of dead-end lives as Frank turns free association into inescapable logic and then back again. The result is the most masterful combination of photographs in book form.
The subjects of Frank's photographs roam this fractured typology like prophets locked in an unstable time loop. Geography no longer takes center stage as the formative element of their photographic selves. In some small but significant way, the americans in the Scalo edition reclaim the intentionality of their sadness, anger, and alienation. The bitter and often unwilling nature of their engagements with Frank take center stage, each as profound an act of refusal as Frank's own denunciation of the pasteboard optimism of '50s America.
Frank is an incredibly skilled image maker, able communicate on many different levels with a single image. Jack Kerouac is the perfect person to write the intro to this book. Both artists worked in a similar way, using travel, speed and chance to communicate fleeting, yet deep, feelings about our complex culture.
Perfectly enjoyable by anyone with an interest in American culture, but essential for those practicing documentary photography.
Most recent customer reviews
Essential viewing for anyone interested in the history of photography as an art form.Published 5 months ago by Robert Allen Boudreau
My husband is ecstatic about his gift - this book! The pictures are exceptional and he is very, very happy.Published 20 months ago by consultant
C'est un livre de collection , dont on est sur le point de sortir le film "ON THE ROAD"Published on June 26 2011 by Angel
There was life before that book and life after. It is where it all began.Published on April 30 2009 by F. Ouellette-sauve