Jacob Holdt spent five years hitchhiking through America in the early 1970s. His journey results in his legendary book American Pictures (1977).
He has been touring the world with his photographs as a four-hour lecture ever since returning to Denmark in the late 70s, but he gained wider recognition in 2007 with the publication of Jacob Holdt: United States 1970-1975.
“The story begins with a Danish preacher’s son. A young and adventurous man, he crossed the US on his way to an extended vacation in South America. Something or other kept him there in the US. And then the counter culture sucked him in, the antiwar movement, Afro-America.
This was when the five most important years of Holdt’s life began. He stayed with the poor and the rich, the white and the black. He slept with the poor and the rich, the white and the black. He discussed things, asked questions, took drugs, accepted charities, and wrote long letters home. Because his parents didn’t believe his descriptions of the conditions in the United States, they sent him a simple camera – the one he then used to shoot American Pictures. He created his book years later, back in Denmark, putting it together in a hurry because a Danish publisher saw potential in his story shortly before the Frankfurt book fair. American Pictures combines travel writing, agit-prop, political essays, photography, and adventure tales. Above all it is cheaply produced. Holdt’s color pictures are mostly rendered in black and white. And they are crowded in by masses of text.” Christoph Ribbat in the book
“Seine momentane künstlerische Renaissance verdankt er Kuratoren. Um die Ausstellung im Essener Folkwangmuseum im vergangenen Jahr (2007 T.S.), die anschließend durch Europa tourte, hat Holdt sich ebenso wenig selber gekümmert wie um das Buch dazu im Steidl Verlag. „United States 1970-1975“ sieht völlig anders aus als das mit Fotos und Text vollgestopfte „Bilder aus Amerika“: clean, farbig, künstlerisch – und mit sehr viel mehr weißen Menschen. Der Band hat Holdt eine Nominierung für den mit 30 000 Euro dotierten Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2008 eingebracht;” http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/geschichte/jacob-holdt-der-ewige-tramp/1230348.html
Résumé: This book is a good start into the world of American Pictures. No more, no less.
There you can download this book and a small-size version of American Pictures as a pdf-file.