We go to the Met
An exhibition of the 83 photographs that comprise Robert Frank’s 1956 ground breaking photo book, “The Americans,” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through January 3, 2010. It originated at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. (You’ll find good resources on both sites.)
Regardless of your familiarity with the work, this show and the accompanying catalog will add greatly to your understanding by providing a detailed examination of the book’s design roots and its organizational principles which variously link images thematically, formally, conceptually and linguistically.
The exhibition illustrates the influence of Michael Wolgensinger, a Swiss commercial photographer with whom Frank apprenticed and trained and the influence of both the photography and contemporary photo book design of among others, Bill Brandt, Walker Evans and Alexey Brodovitch. The exhibition and catalog include contact sheets which reveal the method of Frank’s shooting, and a context for his edits — from 28,000 negatives to 1000 workprints to 85 prints to the final 83.
And there is the history of the publishing of the book itself and the dense, beautiful, rambling first draft of Jack Kerouac’s introduction – [Frank] “sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world.”
Other Exhibits at the Met
Also at the Met, Surface Tension (the photograph as a window, the photograph as an object.)