Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
I guess everyone is entitled to an opinion...
A number of years ago I saw an Avedon exhibit at the MET, his large format portraits were nothing short of stunning. While you may not like his style or approach, his work speaks for itself; Avedon was able to capture the moment and brought out emotion from his subjects unlike what most portrait photographers were doing at the time.
"Calculated and predictable", You could say the same about Ansel Adams. "Moth-eaten and obnoxiously prevalant" ? Sounds like a good description of your comments.
There was more to Avedon than being a good saleman, wikipedia has a little more insight on his "American West" :
Serious heart inflammations hindered Avedonís health in 1974. The troubling time inspired Avedon to create a compelling collection from a new perspective. In 1979, Avedon was commissioned by Mitchell A. Wilder (1913-1979), the director of the Amon Carter Museum to complete the ďWestern Project.Ē Wilder envisioned the project to portray Avedonís take on the American West. It became a turning point in Avedonís career when he focused on everyday working class subjects such as miners soiled in their work clothes, housewives, farmers and drifters on larger-than-life prints instead of a more traditional options with famous public figures or with the openness and grandeur of the West. The project itself lasted five years concluding with an exhibition and a catalogue. It allowed Avedon and his crew to photograph 762 people and expose approximately 17, 000 sheets of 8 x 10 Tri-X Pan film. The collection identified a story within his subjects of their innermost self, a connection Avedon admits would not have happened if his new sense of mortality through severe heart conditions and aging hadnít occurred. Avedon visited and traveled through state fair rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields, slaughter houses and prisons to find the right subjects to reveal. In 1994, Avedon revisited his subjects who would later on open up about the In the American West aftermath and its direct effects. Billy Mudd, who was a trucker, went long periods of time on his own away from his family. He was a depressed, disconnected and lonely man before Avedon offered him the chance to be photographed. When he saw his portrait for the first time, Mudd saw that Avedon was able to reveal Muddís true-self and recognized the need for change in his life. The portrait transformed Billy, and led him to quit his job and return to his family. Helen Whitneyís 1996 American Masterís Avedon: Darkness and Light documentary depicts an aging Avedon photographer identifying In the American West as his best body of work. The project was embedded with Avedonís goal to discover new dimensions within himself, from a Jewish photographer from out East who celebrated the lives of famous public figures to an aging man at one of the last chapters of his life to discovering the inner-worlds, and untold stories of his Western rural subjects. During the production period Avedon encountered problems with size availability for quality printing paper. While he experimented with platinum printing he eventually settled on Portriga Rapid, a double-weight, fiber-based gelatin silver paper manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert. Each print required meticulous work, with an average of thirty to forty manipulations. Two exhibition sets of In the American West were printed as artist proofs, one set to remain at the Carter after the exhibition there, and the other, property of the artist, to travel to the subsequent six venues. Overall, the printing took nine months: about 68, 000 square feet of paper were consumed in the process.
While In the American West is one of the Avedonís most notable works, it has often been criticized for falsifying the West through voyeuristic themes and for exploiting his subjects. Critics question why a photographer from the East who traditionally focuses on models or public figures would go out West to capture the working class members who represent hardship and suffering. They argue that Avedon's intentions are to influence and evoke condescending emotions from the audience such as pity while studying the portraits
You can get beautiful grain from many modern day black and white roll films. 'Modern' technologies such as drum scanning and archival inkjet processes like piezography are capable of producing exquisite prints - just ask Bill Brandt's nephew. While your own personal experience with Photoshop may be limited to pushing buttons removing lint and catbarf many talented photographers have mastered modern techniques to produce beautiful works of art.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
In the American West project consisted of approx 17000 8 x10 negatives edited down to about 120 images for the show.
This was no minor project, even with assistants to do some of the lugging.
I am in the middle of a project , probably used 800 sheets of 4x5 and 1-2 hundred sheets of 8x10.. minor compared to his project, I believe I may end up shooting over 10,000 images but I can say from experience this is a lot of work.
I think Drew you need to walk in his shoes before you make such silly comments about his work.
Yes... too bad Avedon is not still alive. He could probably double the volume of Kodak's 8x10 sales popping film like that. That's less than a 1% return. I've walked many many actual miles with an 8x10, carrying it myself, and long ago figured out that sacred cows are best served up as
Thanks for the quote, Fatso. Yes, I would largely agree with the SECOND paragraph of it, and would like to see things the other directions - pictures somelike like a fish out of water fiddling around trying to invent a New York audience's stereotype of the West (which apparently anywhere a taxi cab doesn't take you - I wonder if Avedon knew how to drive?). Of course out here we have our own heritage of in-your-face
dreaded photographers too, like Dorothea Lange - but she had poetry in her blood. And I don't think Kertesz was simply jealous. He wasn't
exactly a starving artist - probably could have bought the damn museum and fired the staff if he wanted to - but I'll let the historians figure
that one out. It's all quite interesting historically regardless of our personal take.
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Oh (postscript, as see if I can avoid so many typos this time...)... you missed my point, Fatso. I was talking about Fauxtoshop having apps to
simulate or ADD things like grain, lint, catbarf... I have no need for PS myself. I have a real darkroom, actually several of them.
The problem is you have many people who go to museums and look at gigantic murals painted in the Renaissance. They are used to seeing more and more detail as they approach a 10 foot by 30 foot painting. They are simply not cultured enough to realize you can't do that with handheld 35mm shots blown up to 40"X60".
Originally Posted by NB23
It isn't meaningful to discuss viewing distance without more context. If it's for display on a billboard or the side of a building 50' up, that's one thing. If it's for a gallery display can be reasonably expected to get as close as possible and expect to see more detail.
Give them detail and they'll look into it every time. That's what it's there for. It draws viewers in. If nothing's there, then the only option they
have to to back off into a "normal viewing distance" mode, which is a completely relative expression.
Not all "great" paintings have great detail, me thinks you are seriously over generalizing.
Originally Posted by Noble
Also when did it become the audience's job to become cultured enough to look at a photo?
Why should they expect more detail?
Originally Posted by Roger Cole
To be honest on most of my photos in on way or another I try to limit detail, for example by say using B&W materials among other tools..
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." AnaÔs Nin