Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans, Expanded Edition

If you’re not the type of person who would normally spend $47 on a photography book, consider making an exception for the Expanded Edition of Looking In. Robert Frank traveled 10,000 miles through 30 states, shot 767 rolls of film, made 1000 work prints, and edited down to the 83 photos in what is one of the most important photography books ever made.

The essays, histories, and correspondence in the book are all superb. If you don’t own Frank’s original book, it’s worthwhile to note that Looking In contains all 83 images from The Americans. But here’s the real kicker:

  • All 83 proof sheets for the selected images are reproduced in the Expanded Edition.

Whether you’ve meditated on the power of The Americans for decades, or have never even seen it, you couldn’t buy more learning about photography for $47 anywhere.

Photography book aficionados take note: the Expanded Edition also includes Frank’s preliminary sequencing, a look at variant crops in different editions, and additional letters by Frank, Walker Evans, and Jack Kerouac.

The Expanded Edition of Looking in has been in and out of stock at Amazon, which lists a 1-3 week turnaround time. My copy arrived in about 2 weeks with free shipping.

The Looking In exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Americans opens next month at SF MOMA, and runs from May 16  – August 23rd.

Something important to carry, and the things that weren’t on your list

Something important to carry -- by Joe Reifer

Something important to carry — by Joe Reifer

  1. Two-Lane Blacktop – Criterion Collection — can you tell this movie is one of my favorites? I got this as a holiday gift, and the restored version looks and sounds fantastic. The box comes with a copy of the Rudy Wurlitzer script, two different commentary tracks, and a bunch of extra features. Lots of great stories on the second disc: the James Taylor interview reveals that he has never seen the film, blew the crankshaft through the center of the car after someone left it in reverse and he dropped the clutch at 6500rpm, and took a day off with Warren Oates to eat mescaline and do a snake dance in the Four Corners area.
  2. The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset — I put this on my wish list after the price went down to a reasonable $57.99 — every Monty Python episode ever made plus 2 live DVDs. Definitely a collection for the desert island list. Know what I mean?
  3. Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration — you already have Troy’s latest book, right? One of the top photography books of 2008.
  4. Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy — The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) strikes again. Subtle upon first glance, but extremely powerful. If you’ve spent any time in New York this book is a must see. If you’re into urban exploration, there are locations galore. At $13 in hardback this is an essential buy.
  5. Speaking of CLUI, I picked up a copy of Richard Misrach’s book Violent Legacies for $15 when visiting their Culver City location, as well as an interesting early urban exploration book called Dead Tech: A Guide to the Archaeology of Tomorrow, which was originally released in German in 1982. I also bought a copy of a Lucy Lippard book called On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art, and Place. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, CLUI has a small but focused collection of books for sale at great prices, and the 30-minute Trans-Alaska Pipeline slideshow that’s currently on display is fascinating. CLUI is also right next door to the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  6. While across town at the Getty Museum, I picked up a copy of the Robert Adams book Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values. I’ve read his other book Why People Photograph multiple times, which is superb. The exhibit Dialogue among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in Californias has some amazing daguerreotypes and mining photos, and runs until March 1st. The Yosemite photos were less interesting, but I found the comparison between Yosemite photos by Carlton Watkins vs. Eadweard Muybridge very intriguing. The smaller photography exhibit In Focus: The Landscape has a few strong images, including an incredible Timothy O’Sullivan image from 1867 of his portable darkroom wagon on a sand dune. And speaking of Yosemite photos, Roger Minick’s Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point is an all-time classic.

Kick the Balls: An Offensive Suburban Odyssey

Kick the Balls / Alan BlackIf you grew up playing soccer, Alan Black’s book Kick the Balls is a must read. A soccer fanatic from Scotland coaches a suburban Bay Area kids team with disastrous results. Laugh out loud funny. Here’s a short bit from the book about the author going to a yoga class that will give you a sample of the antics you’re in for when you read the book. The dublit.com site also has a great two-part interview with Alan Black.

In addition to writing one of the funniest sports book ever, Mr. Black is also a bartender at the Edinburgh Castle pub in San Francisco. Kick the Balls was my book club’s selection for the month, and we met at the Edinburgh to discuss the book and have a few pints. Alan Black showed up and I got to chat with him for a bit about soccer. His energy and sense of humor will really make you smile, whether in person, or on the page. Below is a photo to prove it. Thanks, Alan!

Joe Reifer and Alan Black

Deadman was stolen? Rudy Wurlitzer interview

The infamous fur trapper scene from Deadman, with Iggy Pop and Billy Bob Thornton.

A friend alerted me to this fascinating interview with Rudy Wurlitzer in Arthur Magazine where Wurlitzer and director Alex Cox reveal that Jim Jarmusch took many of the ideas for his 1995 film Deadman from a Wurlitzer script. The rest of the interview is brilliant and includes a wide range of topics such as writing the script for Two-Lane Blacktop, working with Robert Frank and Monte Hellman, and Rudy Wurlizter’s new book The Drop Edge of Yonder, which is now on the top of my reading list.

Becher, Sander, Hockney, CLUI, Goodreads

David Hockney "Pearblossom Highway"

David Hockney “Pearblossom Highway”

David Hockney — Pearblossom Hwy., 11 – 18th April 1986, #2

The Getty Museum

I was in Los Angeles over the 4th of July weekend, and made a trip to the Getty Museum to see the photography exhibits including:

  • Bernd and Hilla Becher – framework houses are subtle and cool. I wish the prints were bigger, but it’s lovely to see these in person.
  • August Sander – a formidable collection of Sander portraits, extensive and wonderful as long as you skip the trite written material and just focus on the images. A must see if you’re interested in portrait photography.
  • Ten Years in Focus – connecting painting to photography, this small exhibit was quite good, and contains a rare painting by Walker Evans, and the original 6 by 9 foot Hockney image above that completely blew me away. I cannot remember the last time I was so moved by a work of art. Pearblossom has been in storage for almost 10 years, and is only on display for another month. Here’s a video of Hockney. Photographers call it a painting. Painters call it a photograph. That’s worth paying attention to.

Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI)

After the Getty we headed over to CLUI in Culver City to see the latest exhibit on trash. Extra points for the banana peel on a pedestal. CLUI’s small but focused bookstore selection is always a treat, and has more than what’s listed in their online store. I picked up Jan Staller’s excellent book On Planet Earth, a reissue of John C. Van Dyke’s often referred to 1898 book The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances, and a brilliant new book from the Walker Art Center, Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes that is essential reading for anyone working in the post new-topographics continuum.


If you’re an avid reader, check out goodreads.com — a social networking site for sharing what you’re reading with your friends. If you decide to join, or are already a member of the site, feel free to add me as a friend. I just finished reading my bookclub’s selection for the month, Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard, which was an extremely nice follow up to Jed Perl’s rant against the modern museum experience that I referenced last week.

Update: On Shadow reports in from the Getty exhibit.