2: Form and Function Inspiration

Robert Frank

The Americans
Robert Frank (born 1924), along with
Diane Arbus and others, was one of
the founder members of the New York
School of photographers in the 1940s
and 50s. In 1955, he set out on a twoyear
journey across America, during
which time he took 28,000 images
of American society. Only 80 or so of
these images actually made it into
Frank’s book, The Americans. This is still a landmark piece and the documentary tradition owes
a great deal to Frank’s work.
Indianapolis 1955 Robert Frank
Photography 2 Gesture and Meaning 35
Watch a short video about The Americans at
Frank produced images that challenged established photographic values. His images had
blurred people and sloping horizons and asked questions of the viewer. They didn’t open up
easily but required careful reading; for this reason, Frank’s work is seen as a major step forward
for photography and its ability to communicate in new and different ways.