Aperture Establishes First-Ever Endowment through $1 Million Matching Grant from the Andrea Frank Foundation

AFF will also collaborate with Aperture on a new edition of Robert Frank’s iconic book “The Americans” in 2024.

Robert Frank, Trolley–New Orleans, 1955
© Robert Frank and courtesy the Andrea Frank Foundation

On November 9, the birthday of the late artist Robert Frank, Aperture announces the establishment of its first-ever publications endowment through a landmark $1 million matching grant from the Andrea Frank Foundation (AFF), dedicated to continuing Aperture’s nearly seventy-year history of supporting photographers and expanding conversations around the medium of photography. The grant is one of the biggest donations in Aperture’s history, one that will further and significantly strengthen Aperture’s position at the forefront of photobook publishing in the United States and internationally.

In conjunction with the grant, AFF and Aperture will collaborate on a new edition of Robert Frank’s formative photobook The Americans, to be published in 2024, the centennial of Frank’s birth. The new edition will be created in close collaboration with AFF, using scans made from a complete set of Robert Frank’s own prints. The new edition extends Aperture’s longstanding history with the series, most notably its 1968 edition of The Americans, copublished with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a subsequent edition released in 1978.

“We are humbled and inspired by this signal of confidence in Aperture’s future,” said Sarah Meister, executive director of Aperture. “This transformative gift will allow us to expand the ways in which we are able to elevate emerging voices in the field. In assuming responsibility for the publication of The Americans, we are able to foster connections between this landmark achievement and similarly original, ambitious photobooks for generations to come. It is equally pivotal that the impact of AFF’s support is amplified by challenging the rest of our donor community to match this level of funding. We are honored that AFF has entrusted us with the incredible responsibility of publishing The Americans for the centennial of Frank’s birth, and for AFF’s confidence in the future and enduring impact of Aperture for decades to come.”

Cover of The Americans (Aperture/MoMA, 1968)

First published by Delpire in France in 1958, The Americans was released in English a year later by Grove Press, with an introduction by Jack Kerouac. In his characteristically spontaneous prose, Kerouac compared Frank’s photographs to an epic poem, and presciently suggested its effect on the culture: “What a poem this is, what poems can be written about this book of pictures some day by some young new writer high by candlelight bending over them describing every gray mysterious detail.”

The Americans has influenced generations of photographers around the world and became the subject of a major exhibition, Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans, presented in 2009 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and traveling to New York and San Francisco. Aperture honored Robert Frank in 2014 at the foundation’s gala celebrating The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip, a best-selling photobook about journeys and the freedom of the road in US photography, from Frank to Justine Kurland, Stephen Shore, and Alec Soth.

Frank’s revelatory sequence of eighty-three photographs, made with the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship throughout his ten-thousand-mile road trip across the United States, has become a touchstone. “The Americans challenged the presiding midcentury formula for photojournalism, defined by sharp, well-lighted, classically composed pictures, whether of the battlefront, the homespun American heartland or movie stars at leisure,” Philip Gefter noted in the New York Times in 2019. “Mr. Frank’s photographs—of lone individuals, teenage couples, groups at funerals and odd spoors of cultural life—were cinematic, immediate, off-kilter and grainy, like early television transmissions of the period. They would secure his place in photography’s pantheon.”