"'The most renowned photobook of all... none has been more memorable, more influential, nor more fully realized... it changed the face of photography in the documentary mode." -The Photobook
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF FRANK'S MASTERPIECE, possibly the most influential of all American photobooks, SIGNED BY FRANK on half-title. With introduction by Jack Kerouac.
In 1955, Frank "was at work on a project supported but the Guggenheim Foundation that was to present a radically different vision of America and the world… Frank's photographs--taken during travels across the United States in 1955 and 1956--would arguably become the most influential achievement of the entire postwar period in terms of their impact on photographers, artists, and writers.
"Frank's book was called, simply, The Americans. It was first published in France in 1958 and then in America in 1959 with a preface by Frank's friend, writer Jack Kerouac. Frank depicted America as a society with a deep-rooted sense of psychological isolation, what sociologist David Riesman called 'the lonely crowd.' America for Frank was a melancholy, even bleak or frightening place marred by racial and class divisions and enlivened only occasionally by a glimpse of lyrical sadness or joy. Frank's photographs, shot in black and white with a 35mm camera, seemed deliberately casual. The lighting and composition of the images were highly unconventional compared to most photojournalism or fine art photography at the time. Frank was after something more personal, more immediate and spontaneous" (Goldberg and Silberman, American Photography).
"Even the design of the text was somewhat revolutionary. Reflecting Walker Evans's book American Photography, Frank's book was sparse and the photographs were only printed on the right-hand side of the pages. The left-hand side was blank except for the page numbers. Thus, from Frank we get a vision of a foreigner's response to his adopted country that is a kind of 'anguished visual poetry rather than graphic art.' Jack Kerouac… wrote in the introduction to the book 'he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world'" (Encyclopedia of Twentieth-century Photography).
New York: Grove Press, 1959. Oblong quarto, original black cloth, original dust jacket. Book fine, dust jacket price-clipped and with some edgewear. An exceptionally good copy with a particularly strong Frank signature of a book that is notoriously difficult to find in collectible condition.
Price: $12,500 .