In 1955, Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank traveled across the United States photographing how Americans live, work, and spend their leisure time. Detroit was a critical stop on his itinerary, as the Motor City was world renowned for its automobiles along with its factories and labor force. Frank spent several days in Detroit at its legendary Ford Motor Company Rouge Plant and visited dime-store lunch counters, drive-ins, and public parks as well. He may have found Stetson-wearing spectators at a local rodeo an unlikely and uncharacteristic subject for Detroit—a large, industrial, midwestern city. Nonetheless he included Rodeo – Detroit, in addition to eight other photographs taken in the city, as part of the 83 images found in his ground-breaking photo book The Americans from 1958. The book brought Frank great acclaim for his critical commentary on America during the boom years following World War II.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Robert Frank, American, 1924 - 2019
  • Rodeo - Detroit
Date 1955, printed 1960s
Medium gelatin silver print
Dimensions Image: 6 1/2 × 9 7/8 inches (16.5 × 25.1 cm)
Sheet: 8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Ernest and Rosemarie Kanzler Foundation Fund, Forum for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Purchase Fund, and General Art Purchase Fund
Accession Number 2008.49
Department Prints, Drawings & Photographs
Not On View
Signed Signed, in black pen and ink, lower right: Robert Frank
Inscriptions Inscribed, in pencil, verso, upper right: RF.A.005.1 | 504.I
until 2008, Robert Frank (New York, New York, USA);
2009-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Frank, Robert. Les Americains. Paris, 1958, p. 19 (ill.).

Frank, Robert. The Americans. New York, 1978, p. 21 (ill.).

Frank, Robert, The Americans. Gottingen, Germany, 2008 (plate 5).

Greenough, Sarah and Stuart Alexander. Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans. Washington D.C. 2009, p.215 (ill.).

Barr, Nancy. Detroit Experiences: Robert Frank Photographs. Exh. cat., Detroit Institue of Arts. Detroit, 2010, p. 3 (ill.).