Richard Avedon Photographs
February 15, 2010 – May 30, 2010
Two exhibitions this winter feature recent acquisitions to the collection. A selection of works representing various media, styles, and subjects will be on exhibit in the Vanier Gallery January 12 – July 18. Two important photographs by Richard Avedon will be on view in the Wefald Gallery February 16 – May 30.
Avedon gained attention during the late twentieth century for his large-scale, black-and-white portrait photographs of celebrities and working-class Americans. Many of his photographs appeared in national magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Life. One writer has referred to Avedon’s formal, yet powerful images as “veritable symbols of the contrasts of American life.”
The Amon Carter Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, commissioned Avedon to complete a series of portraits of working men and women between 1979 and 1984. Avedon toured back roads in several Midwest and Western states, asking drifters, cafeteria waitresses, meat-processing workers, and others to pose before a simple, white background. From this work, the photographer developed a small-edition series, In the American West, which hung at the Amon Carter Museum in 1985 and toured six other venues. Critics such as Joan Murry of Artweek, noted how Avedon challenged the romanticized picture of the West. Another writer has described how the photographs “show the harsh effect of physical labor on the lives of workers struggling for dignity and economic survival under exhaustingly cruel working conditions.”
In 2008 the Beach Museum of Art received two photographs from Avedon’s In the American West series from Lori Ryan, M.D. (B.S. 1996) and Thomas A. Cairns of Scottsdale, Arizona.