According to photographer Anthony Snowdon, a viewer, when looking at a picture, should not be able to tell who the photographer was. That may be true about his own photographs; he was wrong, however, when it comes to the work of Richard Avedon. Many of his photographs are instantly recognizable as uniquely his or the shots of someone imitating him. Mr. Avedon gave the world the portrait where the subject, often powerful and famous-- although that is not the case in his series "In The American West" when he shot unknowns-- is photographed looking straight into the camera without flattering lighting or camera angles before a white background. These models rarely smile although Janis Joplin and Willem de Kooning are two exceptions.
This latest collection of approximately 200 of Avedon's photographs is the catalogue that accompanies a traveling exhibit of the master photographer, which began at Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and will close in San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. It must have been a difficult assignment to select the images that are reproduced (so beautifully) here. Many of Avedon's most famous photographs are included although there were some that I had never seen before and some I missed seeing. (For example, I would have included the magnificent shot of Tina Turner that usually fills a museum wall when it is exhibited.) The one color photograph by Avedon here is the famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, of Nastssja Kinski and the Serpent (1981). Several fashion shots are included. My favorites are the two of the model Dovima-- with the elephants in 1955 and in front of the pyramids in Eqypt in 1951.Read more ›
If you don't already know the work of Richard Avedon this is the book to show you the genius of his work. His early commercial fashion photographs are a great entry into the creativity of fashion photographs of the late forties and fifties. Without the directions taken by photographers like Avedon the livliness and exuberance of fashion photography of the sixties and seventies could not have happened. His portraiture has also been very significant. The stark, stripped down images he presents us with provide a direct line to the character of his sitters. The two 'In Cold Blood' portraits are both disturbing and illuminating. The 'simplicity of his portraits mask the work of a master technician, someone in complete control of his medium. A great book. Peter B