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Aperture – Robert Frank (1968)

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Although Aperture wasn’t the first to publish the Robert Frank’s legendary work—Robert Delpire published Les Américains in France in 1958, and Grove Press followed a year later in the United States—it was their 1968 edition that endowed the book with its high reputation. Since then, and even if some say otherwise, The Americans has been an endless source of inspiration for both documentary and art photographers, all of whom could name at least one photograph from the book without needing to open it. It was these ‘muse’ pictures that Jason Eskenazi compiled over the course of three years, asking photographers around the world which image from the book was their favorite and why. This collection of 276 stories is exclusively written. Frank’s photographs are only cited in the captions, using page numbers from the 1968 edition. The photographers’ descriptions gradually reveal their selected photograph, and in doing so they share their views of the world and the medium. We hear from the talkative and the timid, the bold and the discreet, celebrities and beginners, the rational and the emotional. Their comments are a tribute both to the master and the profession. While Frank prefers not to analyze his own photographs, he’s sporting enough to tell the story behind “San Francisco, 1956,” a snapshot taken of a private moment between a couple on a hill in San Francisco, which earned the intruder an angry glare, and the invisible photographer was unmasked.

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