In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon

The same day that we’re having our first COBA meeting of 2007, Stanford will be hosting the conclusion of the 20th Anniversary Tour of Richard Avedon’s In the American West. The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University will be holding the exhibition from February 14-May 6, 2007. From the website description:

Richard Avedon was already world famous for elevating fashion photography to an art form and for his insightful portraits of men and women of accomplishment, when the Amon Carter Museum’s first director, Mitchell A. Wilder, saw Avedon’s 1978 portrait of a Montana ranch foreman. Wilder asked the artist to make portraits of others across the American West under the sponsorship of the Amon Carter Museum. From 1979 to 1984, Avedon traveled through 13 states and 189 towns from Texas to Idaho, exposing 17,000 sheets of film through his 8-by-10-inch Deardorff view camera.

Focusing on the rural West, Avedon visited ranches and rodeos, but he also went to truck stops, oil fields, and slaughterhouses. Rather than playing to the western myths of grandeur and space, he sought out people whose appearance and life circumstances were the antithesis of mythical images of the ruggedly handsome cowboy, dashing outdoor adventurer, or beautiful pioneer wife. The subjects he chose for the portraits were ordinary people, coping daily with personal cycles of boom and bust.

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