Robert Frank and “The Americans”
Robert Frank was an American Swiss photographer, who emigrated to the United States in 1947. Frank at that time had a great conception of the United States and its culture and society but that perception of America quickly changed after taking a close look. What started off as a curiosity of the Americans quickly changed to a feeling of dread. He saw America as a bleak place with an overemphasis on money and lonely people trapped in social circumstances. During his two year travel across America, Frank documented the tension between the optimism of 1950’s and the realities of class and racial differences. He shot 28,000 photos but he only chooses 83 for his book “The Americans.” America at that time after the World War II, felt great pride, optimism, and empowerment, so when Frank’s ‘The Americans” was published, they felt exposed and their image threatened, thus Frank’s photos weren’t published in the United States until much later.
Robert Frank’s photo book “The Americans” in my opinion was real, personal, and poetic. The images were raw and powerful showing us a side of America in the 1950’s that was dreadful. The racism in that time was evident in his photographs and that to me was a document to how the people were in those times. The images show how an optimistic America, in reality, was a bleak and lonely place, and it seemed people were miserable in their jobs and everyday lives. But I believe Franks intention wasn’t to criticize and expose the Americans but merely to observe and report, and he wanted to convey his feeling through his photographs.
The images in the book “The Americans” were honest, artistic, and despondent. Frank through these images introduced an art to photography that wasn’t there before, and there is no doubt of his enormous talent.