Robert Frank’s book, The Americans, comprised of photos shot between 1955-57, made photographic history: captured on a series of road trips through the US, these images expose the postwar “American way of life” in grim black and white, revealing a reality of pervasive racism, violence, and consumerism. Due to these photos’ failure to uphold America’s self-image at the time, he at first only managed to have this book published in Europe.
The Americans contained motifs that, in the midst of the Cold War, had not yet been deemed worthy of depiction. He was interested in everyday phenomena of leisure and pop culture, but also documented isolation, the plights of minorities, and racism:
The photograph Trolley, New Orleans was taken just a few weeks before the African-American Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama to a white passenger. It was among 27,000 negatives from 767 rolls of film that Frank chose his...