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Avedon’s In the American West at Cantor Arts Center

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:11 pm

Dylan, Melissa and I went to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford to see their exhibition of In the American West by Richard Avedon. It’s a set of photos taken from 1978-1983 of largely working-class inidivudal from the “West” against a white backdrop. It’s mostly working class and non-working people: miners, housewives, farmers, drifters, house-wives.

They were originally taken on 8×10 negatives. The prints are huge, 1.5-2x life size. You can see every detail and with the white backdrop, the audience is left to study the face, the eyes, the scars, the oil or coal or gypsum or drit from the hard day’s labor in the mine.

The exhibit is arresting. As a photographer, I feel like I would done it differently. I wouldn’t have done the white backdrop, for example, though I think it worked to good effect.

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