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Richard Avedon, In the American West, 1985, Harry N. Abrams: New York
Reviews

From: Remi
Category: Books
Date: 20 May 2004

Review

I'm pleased to finally be writing about a book. And what a splendid book it is! Whenever I can, I grab a photography book from the rack in the College of West Anglia library. There are many fine tomes ranging from photographs of paintings to pure photographs by the likes of Avedon and Cartier-Bresson. This is smalltown, UK, OK?! So I sit me down and peruse the fine portrait snaps( the other style of photography being landscape), which transport me to the lesser documented areas of the United States. You forget just what an expanse is available. Not that the snaps reveal any of the landscape itself, though certain details suggest its imminence. For example, the denim-clad (denim for real, not for show) oil workers dripping in the stuff, ranch workers none too wiry and worn, diner waitresses showing off their patterned designs. Then there are the faces of the subjects themselves, who all have something different to say even if their expressions never vary greatly. But that is precisely Avedon's gift, to make ordinary-looking subjects look extraordinary and interesting. They all have something to say about their lives. From the hard-bitten one-armed dryland farmer, Alfred Lester to the day laborer Billy Joe Danos, a young day laborer, buzzing to move on. The book's introduction interestingly reveals the photos' antecedents, which lie in a collection of ninenteenth and twentieth-century photogrpahs helf in the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Its director had suggested to Avedon that he continue the work. Not a moment was lost, and after five years of travelling around the American West, Avedon compiled this selection.

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