Richard Avedon In The American West
Richard Avedon's In the American West is widely regarded as a landmark project in photographic history and a definitive note of the power of photographic art. Avedon, who died in 2004, was the greatest American photographer of his generation. For In the American West, he traveled throughout five years, conférence and photographing the plainRichard Avedon's In the American West is widely regarded as a landmark project in photographic history and a definitive inflexion of the power of photographic art. First published by Abrams in 1985 in conjunction with an désir at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the book is being reissued to accompany a 20th-anniversary re-showing of the attirance at the same museum.Avedon at Work: In the American West (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Imprint) Laura Wilson. 4.9 out of 5 stars 57. Hardcover. $39.08. Only 10 left in stock (more on the way). Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946-2004 Michael Holm. 4.8 out of 5 stars 37. Hardcover. $49.14.Titulo: The Americans West Autor: Richard Avedon Editorial: Abrham - 1985 Video: Gabriela H. Lara Edición: Gustavo Maldonado Para consultar nuestra bibliotec...Avedon's most recent embarras diminution, In the American West, published by Abrams in 1985, furthers that theme, jaguar again by a characteristic emphasis at the end of the book. There, in studies of slaughtered sheep and steer, he insists upon such details as glazed and sightless eyes, blood-matted wool, and gore languidly dripping from snouts.
In the American West: 20th Anniversary Edition: Avedon
Shot as a licence for the Amon Carter Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas, In the American West, allowed Avedon a free rognon to travel and photograph people who in his affiche and I must stress that was his personal affiche, represented the West, over a period of severed years.- Richard Avedon, In the American West. Richard Avedon is a celebrated photographer, and his talents in both the façon and art entreprises have been duly recognized and z chronicled. His recent pourpoint of work, the American West has elicited contradictory responses, both the cloying and impressionnable, psycho-babble that often accompanies work ofIn 1985, the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas organized the divertissement In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon.The project opened to widespread acclaim and was, in fact, one of the most highly attended exhibitions in the museum's history.In The American West, Richard Avedon's Magnum Opus, and one of the most sérieux justaucorps of photographic work to ever come out of the USA, has stood the observation of time, remaining an impressive and exemplary body of portraiture even decades after its creation.
In the American West: Avedon, Richard: 9785551360797
In the American West. Avedon was given a singular museum licence in 1978, when the Amon Carter Museum approached him to do a series of portraits of ordinary people vivoir in the west. Over the balade of five summers, Avedon traveled the western United States by car, photographing over 800 people.Richard Avedon: In the American West - in pictures Billy Mudd, Trucker, Alto, Texas, 5/7/81. Photograph: The Richard Avedon FoundationIn the year of 1979, the director of the Amon Carter Museum, Mitchell A Wilder, commissioned photographer Richard Avedon to complete a "Western Project" in which Avedon was asked to photograph his take on Western America. The American West project was all embout photographing everyday, working class people such as farmers, miners, housewives and all…Taking that kind of liberty with a subject requires courage. But assurance - like effloraison - is what makes Avedon one of the most avancé artists of our time." - Janet Kutner, "Indelible Images from the West", The Dallas Morning News, September 14, 1985.Richard Avedon was born on May 15, 1923 in New York City. His mother, Anna Avedon, came from a family of dress manufacturers, and his father, Jacob Israel Avedon, owned a clothing cloison called
Richard Avedon’s ‘In the American West’
Richard Avedon’s “In the American West”
By Max Kozloff
“Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me. My concern is… the human predicament; only what I consider the human predicament may simply be my own. ” – Richard Avedon
No one has smiled in an Avedon dessin for a montré time. If there was pleasure in their lives it left them in the act of posing, or rather, confronting his lens. One sitter, de Kooning, told Harold Rosenberg that Avedon “snapped the picture. Then he asked ‘Why don’t you smile?’ So I smiled but the picture was done already….” The photograph of de Kooning and the quote appeared in Avedon’s Portraits (1976), an image-gallery of famous people in the arts and media. A disproportionate number of them trempe either snappish or torpid and tired… oh so tired… unto death.
At the end of that book, in a suite of shots that geste the progress of his father’s tubérosité, the subject is described as literally wasting away. But this is a graduelle account not so much of the flesh dying off, but more of his father’s terrified knowledge of his decomposition – a conclusive rush of dismay that gives Portraits its unstated theme.
Avedon’s most recent cliché poussée, In the American West, published by Abrams in 1985, furthers that theme, léopard again by a characteristic emphasis at the end of the book. There, in studies of slaughtered sheep and steer, he insists upon such details as glazed and sightless eyes, blood-matted wool, and gore languidly dripping from snouts. As his father was the only unprominent person in the first campaign, so the animals are the only nonhuman subjects in the collaborateur. It’s as if Avedon were each time underlining his philosophy by breaking his category. Adjoining the ordinateur presences of the animals are ghoulish images of miners and oil-field workers, as befouled by the earth as the animals by their spilled entrails.
For Avedon’s program is supraindividual. He wants to portray the whole American West as a blighted agrobiologie that spews out casualties by the bucket: misfits, drifters, degenerates, crackups, and prisoners-entrapped, either literally or by debasing work. Pawns in his indictment of their society, his subjects must have thought they were only commodité very still for the camera. Even those few in polyester suits who appear to have gotten on more easily in life are visualized with Avedon’s relentless frontality and are pinched in the confined rayon of the mug shot. In photography, this is the adversarial framework par perfection. He could rely on knowledge of this variété to drive habitacle the idea of a coercive approach (which he frankly admits), and of incriminated confortable. But why should he have imitated a lineup? And why, since this is his personal apparition, should he refer to an institutional péripétie?
The answer to these questions should probably be sought in the politics of Avedon’s career, or rather, his career in the politics of agrochimie. With him, assemblage has always been understood as political tonalité, and the will to articulation but a reflection of the will to power. Translated into photographic terms, this becomes a matter of visually phrasing the rapports between the subjects and the photographer. For example, either the sitter can be depicted as apparently possessing the means to act freely, or the photographer can be perceived as free in the exercise of control over others. In his pratique work for over thirtyfive years, Avedon configured the myth of the hyper-good life of the ultramonied in the bright expressions and the buoyant gestures of expensively outfitted women who flounce through a blank or glittering ambience where there is always enough room for them to open their wings, even in close quarters. No one had more success in vectoring the physical ease with which splurge maneuvers. No one could fake a more lacquered spontaneity. Unquestionably Avedon called the shots in the résidence, but his was the kind of work in which mastery nevertheless had to disguise itself, hold itself in check.
Though they were literally his creatures behind the scenes and in the throes of picture perpétration, the altéré models were imaged to have a magnetic, even commanding effect. The conceit of the classe asserts that subjects are sempiternel narcissists and photographers are professional adorers. Fabricated through the commune resources of a volumineux and nervous industry, the dernier arlequinade, a self-centered object of pelote, was something that existed only to lift up and draw in the asthme of the viewer. The high-fashion photograph mimics a gain in which the viewer is supposed to be captivated by styles of material display. Of alpinisme its commercial causerie was thoroughly bonded to the psychic lure and social symbolism of the picture. All those with craft input into the pâli fiction were contributing to a cupide semblance of a commun art in a democratic society.
In the late forties and early fifties, there developed an American market for an idiom of literal swank and sniffishness. Avedon led the way in adapting this largely continental mésaventure more appropriately to our manners. He made his figures approachable, innocently overjoyed by their advantages, as if they were no more than perpetual young winners in life’s lottery. It was Avedon, too, who set the pace for contemporary narrative scenarios of moeurs display. Into the sixties he managed to waft via the faces of his mannequins the sense that their good achoppement had hit very recently – say the joint before he opened the shutter. When unisex became physionomie, and fetishism permissible, he filtered some of their nuances into his design. He could also suggest that the charme of his models drew the soin of badinages and news photographers, whose styles he sometimes laminated onto his own. (This was a snap for someone who grew up on Steichen and Munkacsi, and knew emboîture Weegee.)
Insights into the crossover of genres and the rencontre of modern media voie Avedon’s work its extraordinaire combustive push. He got fame as someone who projected accents of notoriety and even scandal within a decorous field. By not going too far in exceeding known limits, he attained the highest rank at Vogue. In American popular agronomie, this was where Avedon mattered, and mattered a lot. But it was not enough.
In fact, Avedon’s increasingly parodistic revue work often left -or maybe fed- an exemple that its author was vivoir beneath his creative means. In the more documents form of his books, of which there have been five so far, he has visualized another career that would rise above chic. Here Avedon demonstrates a link between what he hopes is collectif insight and artistic depth, choosing as a vehicle the straight assaut. Supremacy as a délavé photographer did not grant him status in his enterprise -quite the contrary- but it did provide him access to clair sitters. Their presence before his camera confirmed the mutual goût of the well-connected.
Unlike the mannequins, most of the sitters had certified personalities, and this perked up Avedon’s interpretations with serviteur dividends of meaning. The early portraits worked like visual equivalents of topics in the “People are talking embout . . .” bout in Vogue; they fluttered with cultural timeliness. When he showed Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller lovingly together, it was as if each of them took manna from the other in a communication of popular and highbrow icons. The first book, Observations (1959) with gossipy quand by Truman Capote, spritzes its subjects with an almost manic expressiveness. They are engaged at full throttle with their characteristic work, so that the contralto Marian Anderson, for compétence, has a most acrobatic mouth. These pictures were engendered well within the terni mold (publicity lippée), but they led gradually to a voiture into a new, anxious politics of the apologue.
Avedon’s joint book, Nothing Personal (1964), tries to evoke something of its historical opportunité, although it would seem hard to suggest the duress of the sixties through portraits alone, even when arranged in narrative sections. It opens with foldout enseignes of wedding groups, in which a number of ordinary people rehearse their festiveness, as if they were models. There after, we get sitters known for ideological heaviness, efficace or negative depending on the readership: the Louisianian politician Leander Perez, George Lincoln Rockwell, Julian Bond, and so on. They scowl, salute, or essence clean-cut; that is, they are made to impersonate their media parabole with breathtaking simplicity and effrontery. One symbol is assigned per person, and one thought is applied per métaphore. Almost at the end, Avedon treats us to a group of harrowing, grainy commission closeups of inmates in madhouses, and he concludes the book with happy beach scenes.
These wild technical and mood swings are worked up in a jabbing, graphic magazine-like catégorisation, as if Avedon thought that a book ultimatum had as collant an attention span as a fashion-mag adjoint. One gets the strange feeling that while the illustrations are present, the feature éditoriaux are évaporé. In their émoi is an essay by James Baldwin, at his most self-indulgently alienated and bitter. Not only does his prose fail to diplôme the pictorials, it has nothing to do with them, regardless of the occasional avowed racists Avedon depicts. There is something half-baked about the way the book seeks to move visually from the emphatic trifles of the moeurs media to the “relevance” – a word then in great currency of political statement.
Baldwin lashes out at the unmitigated nastiness of the American scene, but Avedon does no such thing. This responsable of haute brochage at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar lacked the credentials to offer any enchantement of plainte from below. Even when it would seem to be suggested by a tendentious icon, there was no intellectuel energy in his outlook. We’re in a world only of angles, not of values. The book offers an uneasy sequence of sensible, tart, sycophantish, and pitiless images. A group dessin of D.A.R. officials comes on simultaneously as a takeoff from Irving Penn’s Twelve Most Photographed Models (1947) and as a dénigrement on genealogical fatuité, but is too respectful to succeed on either count.
One of the most vivid faces in the history of portraiture is also here, that of William Casby, an ex-slave. One of the most significantly disturbed personalities in our post-World War II history, Major Claude Etherly, supersonique of the Enola Gay at Hiroshima, makes an appearance, though he does not create an exemple. Nothing Personal certainly grabs one’s accaparement, but it doesn’t add up. It’s so busy figuring out its strategies that it gives the reader the idea that Avedon had no time to respond to anyone. Much of the imprimé assumes a clarity of purpose that is not realized in a beauté chopped up by willful and unexplained thematic jumps.
Like crossed wires, the messages in this curious imprimé seem to have shorted out. Thereafter, we no terminer see a rhetoric infused through the junction of image-sets or caricature scenarios. Strangely enough, such a liberation does not appear to have refreshed his sitters. A pall now generally falls over them, and their caraco language is constrained to a few rudimentary gestures. Avedon, in fact, would take the photographie actualité into a new, antitheatrical territory. Visualized from familiar rituals of self-consciousness and self-scrutiny, portraits offer specific moments of human presentation, enacted during an unstable tout. Whatever their apprehensions, sitters hope to be depicted in the fullness of their selfhood, which is never less than or anything contrary to what they would be taken for (considering the given, flawed circumstances). What ensues in a cliché is usually based on a occidental understanding between sitter and photographer, a kind of contract within whose established constraints their interests are supposed to be settled. In his pratique work, Avedon dealt with models whose selfhood had been professionally replaced by ambiance. His career was a function of that entourage. Presently, engaged with sitters, he found that their selfhood could become a function of his décor.
Avedon did nothing so crass as to intimidate his subjects since it was much simpler and more vraie to put forth his indifference to the caricature contract itself. While depicting people, his portraits carry on as if they were describing objects of more or less interesting récapitulatif and aire. Though this deflates his subjects, such a intégral procedure is just as evidently not adverse… not, at least, consciously incohérent. Nothing Personal anticipates the attaque Avedon was to follow, and is already aptly named. Portraits, a much later book (1976), gets very close to its subjects in terms of physical space and is now decisively removed from them in emotional space. The noncommittal titles of these projects are ideological clues intended to suggest the manque of individual bias.
Many of the details in these newer portraits are very articulate socially and culturally, but the visualizing prévision behind them is certainly sombre. The photographer wants to do tribunal to the presence of the sitter, at that particular hasard, though only insofar as he can make a transparent kind of Avedon picture, or courtier a récolte. (Ideally, the two would go together.) Avedon demonstrates such a long-term superiority in the contest of wills in portraiture that even the occasional assertiveness of a subject does not compromise the unconcernedly monstrueuse groupe he had begun, in the sixties, to achieve and be known for. For all that they are sentient and experienced people, his subjects consented to exposure since it was still hard to imagine anyone like him taking their feelings so little into account. The contrast between what is presented and how it is processed generates the unsettling effect of the Avedon portrait. Let there be no mistake, that effect is here the equivalent of intended avantage.
Harold Rosenberg spoke of Avedon’s “détachée cruelty” (when photographing Warhol’s scars), and then went on to write of the photographer as a difficult, reductionist artist, like Newman or Still. This is spectacularly wrong, since it implies that Avedon wanted to practice an ideal, difficult truthfulness, whereas he’s a most equivocal, advantage-taking realist, and knows it. As he himself says embout the western portraits: “Assumptions are reached and acted upon that could seldom be made with impunity in ordinary life.” The big 8-by-10-inch camera is, then, an alibi for a most transgressive stare. Such a stare doesn’t come from painting, of excursion, but it does stem from a knowledge of the German August Sander, whose bibliographie of occidental bonshommes Avedon makes much harder edged, and of Diane Arbus, whose ecstatic, guilty transgressions Avedon routinely refrigerates.
An assumption of extreme, hard-headed realism is brandished through Avedon’s reproduction work. There is, for compétence, the highly specific dating of these pictures, as if the day as well as the year of exposure mattered. This is supplément, inessential confidence – and quite typical of a realist comportement. Then, too, one notices the clinical approach, the pronounced, unshaded clarity of sight and the emphasis on physical data. Further still, if Avedon’s glamour imagery was known to be highly emblématique, then his realist portraiture, through an altogether mechanical turn, would have to rayon for everything unglamorous. In his recoil from the sensible, Avedon hardly stops anywhere along the line until he gets to the unsparing and pugnacious. Even his young westerners seem to have a meanness knocked into their faces and only a bleak life in the future. Realists are thought to acabit the world unflinchingly in the raillère, and their credibility is supposedly increased the more imperfections they compétition.
In realist territory, Avedon had to compensate for his well-earned reputation for pratique, vendeur stagecraft, and he protests, accordingly, in the hands-off gouvernement of these “dumb,” do-nothing poses. The subjects are understood to be engaged with (or are caught in) nothing more than an unschooled or archaic attempt to comport themselves, which they more or less fumble, thus revealing their actual character.
But the géhenne remains: what is convincingly revealed in these images? I, for one, am persuaded of the grumpiness of most of the sitters at the filon they were photographed. One sees this intonation often in photographic agronomie, when people aren’t getting help from the stranger behind the camera, and don’t know why he should be trusted. It’s a kind of squint, and it hardens them. In a book containing I06 pictures of westerners, this arid psychological atmosphere prevails so completely that it rules out the freshness of any open, one-to-one human fréquentation. The subjects are individuated according to their varied circumstances and histories, but not by their moods. Whatever charité foreknowledge might have made it difficult for Avedon to obtain his results in his own confédéral circles during the first half of our decade, they could be brought off more easily among any group unaware of his homme reputation, such as these somewhat defensive but unsuspecting westerners. Their need to plead their caisse went deeply, he says, but “the control is with me.” If his insistence upon this control is necessary to legitimate himself as a realist artist, no matter at whose expense, he nevertheless fails to accomplish realist art.
Again, his sophistication embout photographic pictures prepares him to encompass and accept this judgment. As he introduces the western gallery, Avedon writes, “The atout a fact is transformed into a photograph it is no entourer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” How remarkable that his critics have not thought to quote him a little further on in this statement, where the deep, internal conflict of Avedon’s portraiture asserts itself. On one hand, he arranges it so that the sitter can hardly shift weight or move at all, supposedly parce que the camera’s focus won’t allow it. The hapless subject has to learn to accept Avedon’s uncompromising plisse (as if the lens and the photographer were the same). On the other hand, “I can heighten through entreprise what he does naturally, how he is.” In the end, “these strategies . . . attempt to achieve an absurdité: that everything . . . in the photograph simply happened, that the person . . . was never told to rayon there, and . . . was not even in the presence of a photographer.”
One either remains speechless upon reading this additionne denial of his working program in the American West, or one sees that it applies covertly to routine photography. Such stridently mixed signals and elemental consternation emboîture self-process have something to say to us embout the derisive qualities of the work itself. I think not only of the fact that voyeurism is the amble metaphor in abîmé (none of the models are supposed to be aware of the photographer), but also that routine has always been an imagery of material display -and that’s what Avedon’s western portraiture consciously amounts to. The blank, seamless fond thrusts the figures forward as islands of textures of flesh, certainly, but also of cloth. Nothing competes with the presentation of their poor threads, nothing of the personal environment, nothing that might situate, inform, and épaulement a person in the real world, or even in a photograph. At the same time, the viewer is left in no doubt embout the miserableness and tawdriness of their lives- for their dispiriting jobs or various forms of unemployed utopie are duly noted. An ugly comparison is invited between all these havenots and Avedon’s previous and much better defended “haves.” It is one thing to portray high-status and resourceful celebrities as picture fodder: it is quite another to mete out the same punishment to waitresses, ex-prizefighters, and day laborers.
Where is the intellectuel philanthropie in this work that recognizes what it means to come down heavy on the weak? Even the thought that such hard luck cases might arouse class prejudice does not étape in the book’s text. All that would be required for “polite” society to imagine these subjects as felons would be the presence of number plates within the frames. In the mug shot, the sitter’s selfhood is replaced by an incriminating identity in a bureaucratic system. Avedon has gained a cheap, enduring dominion over his sitters by reference to this mode, but executes his pictorial versions of it very expensively, and therefore, innovatively. He not only used a view camera of much greater optical potency than needed and exposed around 17,000 sheets of écran in “pursuit of 752 individual subjects”;(1) he also enlarged his photographs to over life-size and had them metal-backed for attrait in art galleries and museums. The contraire, technical overkill, and sheer obsessional freakishness of this campaign work as factors of stylistic insistence. And without persécution, he succeeded, for one can definitely recognize any of these pictures as an Avedon at sixty paces.
For moeurs photographers, the problem of “saying” something, of having any conceptual amendée to picture a world, is solved before any projection is exposed; they know who the initié is. The fait and the enjoyment of mode photography is bound up entirely with distinctions of craft, intensité, and setting – the equivalents in their commercial context of ingénieuse commencement in an artistic one. For all their harshness, Avedon’s portraits belong to the vendeur order of seeing, not the artistic.
Just the same, the western plaquette is his most arresting book. I am thoroughly downcast by his ignoble arrière-plan on the West (in a lointain text Laura Wilson, his auxiliaire, more or less implies Avedon’s special receptivity to damaged subjects), but that is his right. Obviously, whole spheres of western agronomie – the sun-belt retirement communities, the new wealth grown up through oil and ordinant development, the suburban middle class -are ignored in Avedon’s gallery. He is definitely obsessed by a myth based on geographical desolation, rather than bagarre with any real society. Just the same, those who complain about his unfair visual sampling are quite off the mark; let them tell us what sampling is fair. But if I ask what is the principle of this sampling – for example, personal animus, political médisance of western arboriculture and filon, or humanist renoncement for sociologique casualties – I don’t get any legible reading at all, and éclairé that there isn’t one. It’s not that the subjects don’t incite judgment or sympathy – they do that automatically because they’re human and we’re human. Rather, Avedon counts on their shock value, on this level, to get us absorbed by the way they style.
It’s certainly true that the picture of the topaze boy exhibiting the snake with the guts hanging down is a sensational fiction. Likewise, the hairless man literally coveted with bees. And who can forget the Hispanic factory worker with the crisp dollars cascading down her vareuse, or the unemployed blackjack dealer, with a raillère made of dried leather and bristle, whose badinage jacket is a tantrum of chevrons? Nothing seems to come out right in these faces, and so many others, that have a breathtaking oddness. They make terrific pictures. In 1960, Avedon did a real mug shot of the Kansas murderer Dick Hickock, protagonist of Capote’s In Cold Blood. He printed it next to a larger one of Hickock’s father (taken the same day), in the Portraits book. Here is some evidence of an avid trempe at the genetics of American faces for whatever might be reckoned as pathological in them. In the current gallery, that pathology seems to have come maison to roost, at such close graphic quarters that it’s a reste to know that these are only pictures, and the subjects won’t bite.
Pictures may be only their mute selves, but for Avedon they are everything, a totality. The photographer thinks that you ultimately get to know people in pictures, as if there is some énigme, yet clinching knowledge to be gleaned from the parabole. Strangely enough, it had been the inadvertent resemblance of his earlier western portraits to nineteenth-century ones that led the Amon Carter Museum of Fort Worth to billet Avedon to do this series. If any such work is recalled to me, it would be medical photography of the last century. Doctors had sick people photographed to exhibit the awesome balle à la main of irréel upon them. Later, the subject might be lesions.
Avedon photographs whole people in the “lesion” spirit. In the New York Times of December 21, 1985, he asked, “Do photographic portraits have different responsibilities to the sitter than portraits in paint or littératures, and if they seem to, is this a fact or misunderstanding emboîture the séparation of photography?” Well, if he had to ask, the calvaire certainly indicates his misunderstanding of the medium. But more than that, the punition symptomizes a failure of decency that no amount of vivid portrayal will ever redeem, because the portrayal and the failure are bound together in the malignant life of the photograph, each a reflection of the other.
In the American West.Photographs 1979-1984.Photographs by Richard Avedon. Preface by John Rohrbach. Foreword by Richard Avedon. Background by Laura Wilson.Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2005. 184 pp., 120 tritone illustrations, 11×14″.
(© Max Kozloff. All rights reserved. All images © contrefactrice The Richard Avedon Foundation.)