The Americans is the corollary of a journey Frank made across the United States in 1955 and 1956 with the help of a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The book was first published in France in 1958 as Les Américains; the American edition, with an introduction by the Beat writer Jack Kerouac, came out the following year. During his road trip Frank used almost eight hundred rolls of film, but only eighty-three frames made it into the book, carefully orchestrated into a tight sequence. His elliptical, off-kilter style was controversial, as was his innovative treatment of his subject matter, which revealed a profound sense of alienation in American life. Frank's pictures capture a shadowy postwar society at odds with itself, filled with images of the American flag but still very much divided by segregation and politics.
Gallery label from The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, April 16, 2012–April 29, 2013.