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Image of U.S. 285, New Mexico

Robert Frank , (Nov 9, 1924–Sept 9, 2019)

U.S. 285, New Mexico

1955-1956
13 9/16 in. x 9 5/16 in. (34.45 cm x 23.65 cm)

Medium and Support: gelatin silver print
Credit Line: museum purchase
Accession Number: 1989.77.36

Commentary

First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959 at the height of the cold war, Robert Frank’s The Americans is one of the most important and influential photography books of the twentieth century. The Addison is one of only three American museums to own a complete set of these compelling images.

In 1955-56, a Guggenheim Fellowship allowed Frank, a Swiss-born photographer, to travel throughout the United States with the goal of creating a book of photographs that he described as a “visual study of a civilization.” An outsider looking in, Frank’s dark and grainy photographs reveal his ambivalence toward his new country. Edited down from thousands, the eighty-three carefully sequenced photographs are a raw and insightful documentation of a country in transition, both celebrating its strengths and exposing the cracks in the veneer of hope and optimism that defined postwar culture. As Jack Kerouac wrote in the introduction to the book, “Robert Frank, Swiss, unobtrusive, nice, with that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand, he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film.”

Allison Kemmerer
Curator of Photography and Contemporary Art

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Related Parent(s) Click a record to view
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The Americans

1989.77.1-84

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