Parade—Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955

Robert Frank (American, born Switzerland, 1924)
Parade—Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955
gelatin silver print
Private collection, San Francisco
Photograph © Robert Frank, from The Americans

Looking In: Robert Frank’s 'The Americans' at the NGA


The 50th anniversary of a groundbreaking publication will be celebrated in the nation’s capital with the exhibition Looking In: Robert Frank’s 'The Americans', premiering January 18 through April 26, 2009, in the National Gallery of Art in Washington

January 18 through April 26, 2009

In 1955 and 1956, the Swiss-born American photographer Robert Frank (b. 1924) traveled across the United States to photograph, as he wrote, "the kind of civilization born here and spreading elsewhere." The result of his journey was The Americans, a book that looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a culture on the brink of massive social upheaval and one that changed the course of 20th-century photography.

First published in France in 1958 and in the United States in 1959, The Americans remains the single most important book of photographs published since World War II. The exhibition will examine both Frank’s process in creating the photographs and the book by presenting 150 photographs, including all of the images from The Americans, as well as 17 books, 15 manuscripts, and 28 contact sheets. In honor of the exhibition, Frank has created a film and participated in selecting and assembling three large collages. The exhibition will travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from May 17 through August 23, 2009, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 22 through December 27, 2009.

"The Americans is as powerful and provocative today as it was 50 years ago," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "We are immensely grateful to Robert Frank and his wife, June Leaf, for their enthusiastic participation and assistance in all aspects of this exhibition and its equally ambitious catalogue. We also wish to thank Robert Frank for his donation of archival material related to The Americans, in addition to gifts of his photographs and other exhibition prints to the National Gallery of Art in 1990, 1994, and 1996, all of which formed the foundation of the project."

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