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BooksENImages & Medias

Les Américain / The Americans

In 1958, 83 photos revolutionized photo-reportage. Two years of work, a subtle point of view, a book with a title as simple as it is ambitious. Robert Frank signs Les Américains.

There is one thing the photo should contain: the humanity of the moment.

Robert Frank

If a photojournalist could only read and look at one photobook, it would be Robert Frank’s masterpiece : Les Américains.

Robert Frank signs Les Américains
Robert Frank signs Les Américains

Thanks to a Guggenheim scholarship, Robert Frank, then aged 31, traveled for two years with his family across the United States. In 1955 and 1956, he photographed the multiple strata of American society. Although fascinated by his culture, he adopts a very subtle point of view mixing irony and objectivity on American society.

Among the 23,000 images resulting from this trip, Robert Frank himself chose 83 pictures which would form the first edition entitled, in French, Les Américain, published in 1958 by Delpire, Paris.

The 1958 edition is currently trading around 1000 €, this is the price to afford the first edition of Les Américains.

Cover of the first edition
Back cover of the first edition

In 1959, The Americans was finally released in the United States by Grove Press. The texts disappear in favor of a preface by Jack Kerouac.

Fortunately there are two more recent editions, and therefore much affordable. One from 1997 and the other from 2008, published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first edition.

Robert Franck

In short
  • Date of birth: November 9, 1924
  • Nationality: Swiss, American
  • Place of residence: New York

Les Americains / The Americans

Different editions
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Nicolas Beaumont is a photojournalist, director and writer specializing in social and humanitarian photography. Among our clients are the French Red Cross, Emmaüs, Handicap International, Secours Mag, Dimatex, Actusoins. We make films, photographs and articles around the world on current topics: migration, war, displaced, natural disaster, flood etc...

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