In the American West: 20th Anniversary Edition (英語) ハードカバー – 2005/10/1
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Avedon's "In the American West" was a large-scale project intended to create a portrait of Americans of the West. The photographer traveled for five years meeting and photographing the people of the West - ranch workers, roustabouts, bar girls, drifters, and gamblers. He focused on men and women who worked at hard, uncelebrated jobs and lead unheralded lives. When the work was exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum, a reporter at the local paper wrote, "this is not our West." The show was controversial and remains so. The book includes an essay by Avedon on his working methods and portrait philosophy, as well as a journal of the project by Laura Wilson. The new edition also includes a brief foreword by John Rohrbach, senior curator of photographs at the Amon Carter Museum, but is otherwise unchanged from the original book.
Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was one of the most influential photographers of the second half of the 20th century. His portrait work comprises an authoritative record of our era and his fashion photography redefined the genre. Laura Wilson is a photographer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, the Washington Post Magazine, and London's Sunday Times Magazine. John Rohrbach is senior photography curator at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth.
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These portraits are raw - each man, woman and child is exposed. Avedon recognised that each of the individuals in these portraits were an entity unto themselves. Their lives are in their faces; there is no need for props or pictorial backgrounds. Everyone was photographed against a simple sheet of white paper - a groundbreaking approach for this genre at the time. No staging, nothing concealed, nothing enhanced and there is no evidence of tweeking.
These photos distressed the romantic notion of 'the west' that prevailed until the late 1980s, and in turn contributed to its redefinition in popular culture. I still find myself looking at these pictures over and over again, wondering about the fate of some of these folks. This is another benefit of a book like this - it poses questions which cannot be easily answered - what happened to these people?
I'm so very thankful I got myself a copy. If you, like myself, are working on building a photography book collection, then this is an essential addition.