The PhotoBook Journal

October 1, 2008

Robert Frank – The Americans

The Americans – copyright of Robert Frank published by Steidl, 2008 special edition

How one thing sometimes leads to another, as I had recently purchased a new Robert Frank book Paris while I was in Philadelphia and I figured it would be easy to relate Paris to The Americans without owning a copy of The Americans. In the fifty years since The Americans was published, I think that between all of my other books, I must have every image that was published in his book

I also know that there was the big bash about Steidl re-publishing The Americans, but I also figured that this was some big splashy uber book from the Germans. Not so!

So when I came across a couple of copies at one of my favorite book stores, I was impressed with what a manageable size the book is, measuring about 8-1/2″ x 7-1/2 and about 1″ thick. Nice, hand holdable and very readable. So I walked out of the book store with my impulse purchase of the day in hand.

Yes, in retrospect, I probably do (not) have every image from The Americans spread out in my book stacks, but that is difficult if not impossible to access. And it is really nice to have a classic photographic book that makes it so easy to look at the images in the proper sequence that the photographer had designed and layed out.

One thing to consider  is that it is now hard to envision this book and the reaction to it with the late 1950’s mind set, even when you do find those late 1950’s and early 1960’s reviews. We now look at these photographs as a bit dated in terms of historical perspective, but can still marvel at the crispness of his vision that is articulated in this collection of photographs.

Now this is a book to be enjoyed and to help keep what we do today as photographers in perspective. Now, of course, I have my own personal benchmark for my future article about another Robert Frank book – Paris.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

Updated 10-27-11: Turns out that I did not have all of the photographs from The Americans referenced elsewhere, more of the 80/20 rule: 80% of the photographs you find published from The Americans constitute only about 20% of the photographs of this body of work. So I choose to include some not as well known photographic pages to update my commentary.



  1. […] what is perceived of America, perhaps not running as deep as Robert Frank in his seminal photobook The Americans, but […]

    Pingback by Mathieu Lambert – Fake Tales of America « The PhotoBook — July 27, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  2. […] photograph of the young girl and flag has a similar connotation to me as the Robert Frank (The Americans) photograph of the older woman who is proudly holding an American flag, but when the photograph is […]

    Pingback by Mark John Ostrowski – Amerikana « The PhotoBook — October 1, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  3. […] I find one of the more interesting photographs early one is the contemporary homage to the similar Roman photograph by Ruth Orkin photograph. This may also become a Soth trademark, as in Soth’s earlier book “Broken Manual”, he recreated a Robert Frank photograph (window, Butte Montana) in homage to Frank’s photobook, “The Americans” […]

    Pingback by Alec Soth – La Belle Dame Sans Merci « The PhotoBook — October 7, 2011 @ 4:49 am

  4. […] The photographers selected include Robert Frank (b.1924), Diane Arbus (1923 – 1971), Ruth-Marion Baruch (1922 – 1997), Jerry Berndt (b.1943), Bruce Davidson (b.1933), Lee Friedlander (b 1934), Danny Lyon, (b.1942), Gary Winogrand (1928 – 1984), and Ernest Withers (1922 – 2007). All of the photographic work is drawn from the 1960’s, with the exception of Robert Frank, whose photographs were made in the late 1950’s and produced in his seminal photobook “The Americans”. […]

    Pingback by Museum of Photographic Arts – Streetwise: Masters of 60s Photography « The PhotoBook — October 27, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  5. […] The Photobook  (1st October 2008) Robert Frank The Americans [Online] […]

    Pingback by Bibliography | deanachantler — November 24, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

  6. […] particular reference points and points of view. (Frank and Sander were reviewed here previously: Robert Frank; August […]

    Pingback by Christian Nilson – The Swiss | The PhotoBook — April 24, 2017 @ 9:15 pm

  7. […] Harvey Benge’s The Month Before Trump is a collection of photographs made in the United States, specifically San Francisco and New York in October 2016, the month before the presidential elections. As a New Zealander who spends equal time between Auckland and Paris, he provides a sophisticated outsider’s eye which reminds me of a contemporary Robert Frank and his 1950’s seminal photobook The Americans. […]

    Pingback by Harvey Benge – The Month Before Trump | The PhotoBook Journal — August 12, 2017 @ 11:36 am

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