Richard Avedon

Discussion in 'News' started by movingfinger, Oct 19, 2020.

  1. very bad photo of cheap poster of avedon photo...wildly bad color...does an injustice to Avedon as well as the poster itself.
  2. It took a bit of getting used to but I very much like a lot of his earlier fashion work, there’s nothing even close to that now. He also did a portrait series as I recall of regular people, very often working class, in different environments that seemed to suit them. Some of his best work I think.

    Rick H.
  3. This is an excellent article. I aspire to some level of portraiture, and Richard Avedon has provided no small degree of inspiration in this realm. A secondary book to his In The American West portraiture book, Avedon At Work In The American West by (his assistant?), Laura Wilson, is a great read.

    As an aside, we saw the Netflix film on the Trial Of The Chicago Seven. It's well worth a watch, IMO.
  4. "The American West" , IMHO, is one of the greatest books of its kind ever made, akin to August Sander and Mike Disfarmer. But let's remember that the book came under withering criticism for showing folks as they were rather than some idealized image of cowboys and cowgirls. Reminds me that Robert Frank and Thelonious Monk were also roundly criticized at the time. Chief among the Robert Frank critics was Ansel Adams.
  5. I've probably missed quite a lot, but from my limited perspective it seems to me that few visionaries are met with applause at the time of their creations.
  6. While I greatly admire (and am envious of) the photographs in Avedon's The American West I take issue with the title. In my opinion it is not all that representative of the American west, but rather more representative of a class or group or kind of people. I'm not sure how to characterize this group, so I struggle with the adjective to use, but it seems to me that such sorts could be found anywhere. By 'anywhere' I mean most anywhere on the planet really. Conversely in the American west one can find all sorts of other types to photograph, again types that can be found anywhere.

    On a separate note, and perhaps meriting it's own thread in the Philosophy Forum is a great statement Avedon made in the intro to a gallery show of his American West:
    "There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."
    Note that Avedon made this before PhotoShop and digital editing. We should all have this as our mantra.
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  7. I don’t know that this is the rule so much as the mystique of the tragic exception.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
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  8. I did have a face to face encounter with Avedon in a Manhattan office building way back when. His glance was so piercing that it was like a strobe going off in my face.
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  9. Some folks on PN recently took issue with Frank’s The Americans for similar reasons. I take the titles The American West and The Americans to be more factual than broadly descriptive. Frank’s photos were photos of Americans, not claiming to be representative of all walks of American life. Avedon’s photos were of people who lived in The American West, not claiming to be representative of the American west per se. While I think each does justice to its title, I don’t think either attempts to portray an all-encompassing portrait of a multi-faceted society within the place named in the title. The essence of each is to comment on a cultural milieu within the surrounds of its title. The ability to zero in on such cultural humanism, icons, and symbols is at the core of each series. A clear and distinct perspective, a strong comment on culture and even class, rather than a more generalized view, seems to me to elevate each series. While Avedon’s portraits leave me a bit cold due to their unrelenting similarity of expressions, comportment, and the removal of environmental cues, the work seen live and in-person is still powerful enough to earn my respect and move me for its commitment and boldness.
  10. That it doesn't square with your notion of the American West hardly disqualifies Avedon's perception. That's it's not some ideal/typical portrayal seems a problem for you.
  11. The full title ... In the American West...
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  12. graduation-emoji.jpg
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  13. That Avedon's book is not some ideal/typical portrayal not a problem for me at all. My only 'issue' (as I called it, not a problem either) was with the title and as samstevens and inoneeye corrected me on the title, it being "In the American West" I no longer even have an 'issue' with the title. As I said I greatly admire the photographs. If you visit my website and my "environmental portraits" gallery here you will see why I admire Avedon's work, why I am jealous and if you look at the locations you'll see why I took issue with an assumed title of The American West.
  14. Fair enough. Sounds like we were talking past each other. Cheers
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  15. nice collection.
    movingfinger likes this.
  16. @movingfinger nice photos there.

    As an aside, wouldn't it be fun to randomly drive around with an entire team to assist you in photographing arbitrary subjects you've plucked from "the wild"?

    That said, I sort of understand why there's little descriptive text accompanying each subject/photo, but for my own preferences, the back stories would be as fascinating as the subjects themselves. The adendum/book I referenced earlier, Laura Wilson's Avedon At Work In The American West does go into some of this but not necessarily for each subject. Also another really interesting point that came to light in Ms Wilson's book, IF I recall it correctly- was the sheer number of photos shot for this series. Mr Avedon pared down the selection to what we know as the remaining (comparative) few destroyed all the other photos and negatives.

    As stated I'm recalling from memory but may have this wrong. All in all, though- both Mr Avedon's & Ms Wilson's books are interesting, each in their own right.
  17. The back stories? I'm not sure I could handle that. Anyway, the "back stories" are etched on the subject's faces.
  18. Here are two Avedon quotes I love, for their insights into photography, for their insights into Avedon's photography, and for their insights into a lot of things ...
    I think Avedon would recognize the difference between and understand the significance of both the photos and the back stories.
    movingfinger likes this.
  19. Usually the "back stories", who and what someone is, can not be reduced to what you can imagine looking at someone's face. There is far more depth to the personality of even the most boring people than can be shown by something simple as a photograph.
    A photo even can't begin to convey how someone ports him or herself, the manner of speech, etc., which too are only poor indicators of personalities.
    Photos, portraits, Arthur, are not very good at telling "back stories".
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