Looking in: Robert Frank’s The Americans – A lesson in photography

Original text in French by DAVID GODICHAUD

Translation by IANA DREYER

October 6th, 2009.

One rarely speaks of “draft” when it comes to photography. This is a term generally left to the world of literature. It’s as if one couldn’t cross out images, the sequences were without punctuation, there was no structure to the storyline, no introduction, no epilogue. The final product, be it a book or an exhibition, is simply taken as a given, the result of a random process of creation. Fifty years after Robert Frank’s book The Americans was printed, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is exhibiting more than 83 vintage prints of the book’s pictures. Jeff L. Rosenhein and Sarah Greenough, the exhibition’s curators, decided to focus on showing the photographer’s work-in-progress, revealing how his opus was constructed, and thus to explain the artist’s path to success. A fantastic initiative!
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