“The humor, the sadness, the EVERYTHING-ness and American-ness of these pictures!” Jack Kerouac’s introduction to Robert Frank’s 1957 book The Americans captures the spirit of Frank’s groundbreaking images and harnesses the unrelenting enthusiasm for photographs depicting diverse aspects of American culture.
Works by Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Harry Callahan, and Edward Weston, as well as a significant selection of Frank’s photographs from The Americans, reveal the many ways artists used the camera to chart 20th-century society in the United States, from the Great Depression to the Civil Rights era and beyond.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, The Americans, by Robert Frank changed the course of 20th-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life. And it was not just Frank's subject matter--cars, jukeboxes and even the road itself―that redefined the icons of America; it was also his seemingly intuitive, immediate, off-kilter style, as well as his method of brilliantly linking his photographs together thematically, conceptually, formally and linguistically, that made this publication so innovative. More of an ode or a poem than a literal document, the book is as powerful and provocative today as it was 56 years ago.