Thoughts on In The American West...

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by photomc, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Finally made it over to the Carter yesterday, and re-visited Avedon's In The American West. It was really a wonderfull experience, and since I have been IN the darkroom more recently, and in part due to changes in viewing photography because of APUG was able to 'see' this exhibit with new eyes.

    First was the appreciation of the pure SIZE of these prints, some so large that they had to be printed in sections...did not recall this from the last time I saw them. Next was how white the whites are and how black the blacks are, really quite amazing to me, the mid tones are just incredible. Next would be the 'look' each print has, the bokeh of the lens maybe, not sure....but where the image is sharp well each wiskered old timer looks like it would ripe the hide of a horse, you can almost smell the coal on the miners, feel the grit and grime on there clothes....well you get the point.

    These images are real....it's the only way I can put it and each one leaves you feeling like you just looked into the soul of the subject. If you happen to be in the North Texas area for some reason or get a chance at any time to see some of these prints, do yourself a favor and see them....don't think you will be sorry you did.
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    One of my favorite books and photographer, I will see this exhibit sometime when I am in Texas, the prints in real life sound amazing.
     
  3. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    I agree with the above and have had the book in my collection for many years....what I havent been able to grasp with my feeble mind is the amount of space given to the butchered cow head photos in the meat packing house...any insight on that one, from those more informed.
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I would agree that Avedon is a wonderful photographer.

    BUT my feeling of the whole book, is that of a "sophisticated" New Yorker venturing out into bumpkinland to photograph the weird and wacky people that live there.

    It is more like lets do a safari to deepest Africa and bring back some of the strange beings to the civilized world so that people can see how other cultures live. Sort of a Barnum and Bailey freak show.

    That's how I felt when I saw the book and the documentary.

    I really don't see it as a celebration of their lives at all.

    I would contrast it with a photographer like Mark Tucker who shoots in rural areas and has an affinity and an obviously respect for his subjects.

    Just an opinion


    MIchael
     
  5. photomc

    photomc Member

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    I did not get that feeling when he was here last year giving a talk....of course would he really say anything that would leave you feeling that way ... but I honestly think he was just that 'quirkey'. Some of the photos and letter's that accompanied Ms. Wilson's book and show that is up with Avedon's at the Carter right now, show a different side....Yeah, at times I get the feeling he was just slummin with the local folks...but there were times when you think this guy was just a bit off center and that is where this all came from.

    Like you Michael...just an opinion (more like impression)
     
  6. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Dave, you pose a very good question - was it shock value, or what? The images did not bother me, they just were not as strong as the others...

    Does anyone know what paper these were printed on? I know it was roll paper, but do not recall reading which paper/developer was used.
     
  7. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    "this is a fictional West,"
    Avedon has said. I don't think the West of these portraits is any more conclusive than the West of John Wayne." from the book
     
  8. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I find in those portraits the same spirit as in Avedon's portrait of Eisenhower. A difficult and beautiful directness, of "this is what it costs to be this person." It's a thread that is found in many Avedons, like Groucho or Marilyn or Pound. And IN THE AMERICAN WEST seems exactly like that. It is for the people of the west not unlike what Adams' WHAT WE BOUGHT is for the land.