January 3, 2010

365 Project: Day 79

This is one of the seven books that I'm reading right now. Well, there's not really much to read in this book, its mostly pictures, but it still counts. Richard Avedon is one of my favorite photographers. Hell, I'd even venture to say that he may be my favorite photographer. When I saw this book sitting on the shelf at the library, I had to take it home with me. There is a lot of truth in his images. The way he captures people seems to show them for who they are in that moment. I love all the black and white portraits that he shot on a clean white background. The white background allows the person to become the focus of the image without any distractions. The intensity is incredible.

He was able photograph so many amazing people and document many important time periods of the 1900s. I love his images from during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963 he photographed William Casby, a man who was born into slavery.  Its one of my favorite of Avedon's portraits. The tone of Casby's skin is so rich. The expression on his face shows how hard his life must have been. He's worn.

Avedon photographed Napalm victims in Vietnam in 1971. One of his subjects is a woman who was terribly scarred and disfigured. She is looking into the camera with the only eye she has left. She has so much intensity and sadness. It makes me cry every time I see it. My heart goes out to her. I can't imagine what she's been through, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. You can't survive something like that without it permanently damaging you inside and out.

His images from the East Louisiana State Mental Hospital are disturbing to say the least. He documented people who are lost, childlike, afraid, confused, distraught and locked up in a facility because society and their families don't know what else to do with them. The patients all look abandoned. They all seem so alone, each in their own little worlds. The hospital is all tile. Its stark and cold. Avedon's own sister passed away in a mental institution.

Avedon also photographed fashion. Ah...Avedon's fashion portfolio is amazing. In the 50s he created a series with Dovima wearing Dior and posing with elephants. Brilliant.

I can't say enough about his work. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out. It is incredible. Avedon inspires me.

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