National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

image: Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, January 18 to April 26, 2009

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

Related Resources

Exhibition Feature
Frank (Download Flash player)

NGA Arttalk: Elson Lecture 2009: Robert Frank
Photographer Robert Frank and Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art
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NGA Arttalk: An American Journey
Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art, and Philippe Séclier, filmmaker
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NGA Notable Lecture: Transforming Destiny into Awareness: Robert Frank's "The Americans"
Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art
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NGA Notable Lecture: Robert Frank and the Photographic Book, 1930–1960
Noted scholars Stephen Brooke, Martin Gasser, Olivier Lugon, and Alan Trachtenberg present illustrated lectures in this podcast, recorded on January 24, 2009, at the National Gallery of Art.
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Works by
Robert Frank
in the Gallery's Collection

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Press Materials

Image: Robert Frank, Parade–Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955First published in France in 1958 and in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The Americans is widely celebrated as the most important photography book since World War II. Including 83 photographs made lar gely in 1955 and 1956 while Frank (b. 1924) traveled around the United States, the book looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a profound sense of alienation, angst, and loneliness. With these prophetic photographs, Frank redefined the icons of America, noting that cars, jukeboxes, gas stations, diners, and even the road itself were telling symbols of contemporary life. Frank's style—seemingly loose, casual compositions, with often rough, blurred, out-of-focus foregrounds and tilted horizons—was just as controversial and influential as his subject matter. The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the book's publication by presenting all 83 photographs from The Americans in the order established by the book, and by providing a detailed examination of the book's roots in Frank's earlier work, its construction, and its impact on his later art.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art.

Sponsor: Access Industries is proud to be the principal sponsor of the exhibition.

The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Trellis Fund.

Early support for research was provided by the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation.

The exhibition catalogue is published with the assistance of The Getty Foundation.

Reading the Modern Photography Book: Changing Perceptions

Held in conjunction with Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans," this exhibition examines a variety of artistic and thematic approaches to the modern photography book, displaying examples that span the period from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. The photography book, more than simply a book containing photographs, is a publication composed by the careful sequencing and editing of photographic material. Often produced by a photographer, they present visual narratives through creative page design that frequently integrates photographs with text and graphic elements.

This focus exhibition organizes 21 books from the Gallery's library into four themes: "New Visions," "Documented Realities," "Postwar Scenes," and "Conceptual Practices." It highlights diverse projects from individual photographers such as László Moholy-Nagy, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Yasuhiro Ishimoto as well as collaborative projects from the Hungarian Work Circle (Munka Kör) and Andy Warhol's Factory, revealing that the photography book is both a significant conveyer of contemporary experience and a witness to historical events.
Exhibition Brochure (PDF 436k)

View a slideshow of images

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art.