Reviews - What do customers think about The Americans?
The definitive "The Americans" Jul 28, 2008
We're lucky to have this edition. Robert Frank is an old man with health issues now. That he is healthy enough to oversee this work is wonderful. Everything about this edition - especially in comparison to the 2007 Delpine edition I purchased earlier this year - is first-rate. I wish I had known this was coming out!
The book is a little smaller than the Delpine, but that's the only real negative (if it is one) I can think of. The main thing to me is that the photos themselves are how Frank intended them to look. Gone are the overly-lightened faces that plague the Delpine book. This is a pet peeve of mine that kills many photos in this Photoshop age. This is very obvious in the New Orleans trolley photo. In the Delpine work, the faces of the white passengers are totally washed out, and the black faces are awkwardly lightened (someone apparently thought they were helping Frank's work). That's all corrected here. In this Steidl edition things are shown as they were intended. One can even see details in the face of the man at far left, even though it is partially obscured by a window reflection.
Also, on several photos more of the frame is visible. This was most noticeable to me in the Butte, Montana photo of the woman looking out the car window, with several children in the back seat. A good portion of the left side of the photo is now visible, along with more shown on the top and bottom. The new crop just seems more "right." Not too mention that the face of the child in the middle of the photo is too light in the older edition.
Simply put, comparing the two editions is an eye opener. I first saw these photos years ago in a much earlier edition (I believe it was the 1969 Aperture work) and I still marvel at the depth of the images in that printing. I don't have that edition in hand, so I can't do a direct comparison, but I believe the Steidl images are much closer to that ideal. Franks prefers his images a little on the flat, low-key side. Another difference is that the photos are now printed on a non-glossy paper. I was surprised at this at first, but now I believe it works much better for this book.
In short, if you want an accurate, lovingly-printed edition of The Americans at a reasonable price, this is the one. Highly recommended.
Black and White and Grey Jul 27, 2008
Looking at this again after many years ( I first came across it about 25 years ago) the images are as poignant as ever. This is truly a great book of photographs and is perhaps the best photojournalist's collection ever published. The new edition has all the gravity and attention to detail that the work deserves.
The open road of Robert Frank Jul 26, 2008
In this new edition of THE AMERICANS, the publisher, Steidl seems to have taken every step necessary to maintain artistic integrity of Franks vision. Even going as far as having Frank supervise the new printing of the photographs used in the book. The paper used in the book is very high quality, perhaps even 'archival' grade. Of course, there is the Kerouac introduction that both rambles, amuses and enlightens. There is a small pamphlet included in the book briefly telling the background story of how this new edition came to life. While this pamphlet is basically an advertisement, it also provides the passing fan of Robert Frank with a greater knowledge of what Frank has done over the course of his life by listing other books and movies that Stiedl will be publishing in the future. Thoughtfully, museum dates are also given for those interested enough to travel to D.C., SF or, NYC for the 50th anniversary celebration and exhibition of the book. From Steidl, this is a fine book; from Frank, a work of art; and a labor of love from all involved.
Classic Jul 23, 2008
This is one of the classic photographic books. I suggest that anyone with a hobby or serious interest in photography read this book.
Am I completely obtuse? Jul 17, 2008
I purchased this much heralded photo collection book after reading the review in Newsweek. Maybe I'm not artsy-sophisticated enough to understand the supposed power and humanness or whatever behind these photos. I just don't get them. For a much better look at people in general, look at the book The Life of Man, or even a book of Norman Rockwell paintings. Those books will give you a better idea of life from the 1920's to the 1970's, and the people. The only photo that did stand out to me was the cover photo of the bus. It's painful.