The lesson often learned from The Americana was not one of content or meaning, but a realization of the enormous strength of the attitude behind it.The Lines of My Hand shows this as a sense of inevitability, a feeling that there is no escape from life. The suggestion of this double critique -- of the social structure and of the established diction of photography -- comes from more than just speculative theory.
The lesson often learned from The Americana was not one of content or meaning, but a realization of the enormous strength of the attitude behind it.The Lines of My Hand shows this as a sense of inevitability, a feeling that there is no escape from life.
By me mid-1960s Robert Frank was as well known among filmmakers as among photographers; by then photography had changed also, and photographers pointed to The Americans a one of the major sources for the changes.
While those changes led photography into the ever-broadening fields of surrealism and formalism, Robert Frank limited his photographs to the personal and the private.
It has meant searching out other Frank fanatics, engaging in endless and at times pointless discussions and arguments, and planning forays into literature and foreign languages.
Today I think I know exactly what The Americans means, but whenever I try to explain I get lost among the facts, details, hints, and significant quotations.
The Americans is overtly public in subject matter, yet deeply infused with personal feelings -- recognizable even in me 1950s as a tone of disapproving sadness which had never before been allowed in photojournalism.
Gaylord Herron called it "Robert Frank's diary," but many saw the book instead as an accurate reflection, and hence as a critique of America.
This text was first requested by Robert Delpire for a pocket book of photographs by Robert Frank to be published (I think) by the French Ministry of Photography.
As the text expanded, I realized he would never publish a 15 page introduction to a 20 page book.
These two threads, clarity ad certainty, which become so apparent in Frank's later work, can also be found in The Americans. They argue for a cohesiveness of form, a accountability for every detail, and a message.
* * * Most striking about The Americans is me amalgam of public and private which in combination raises the effectiveness of both.