This fascinating show at the Gagosian gallery presents ten large-scale Richard Avedon photographs—each of which measures almost seven feet in height. But it’s not just the scale of the images that make them monumental. It’s also the subject matter and his treatment in photographing them. Of course, all of the images still include Avedon’s classic seamless white background.
To produce this series, “In the American West,” Avedon took five years traveling through various western states. During that time, he photographed more than a thousand people, none of them celebrities or well-known. He selected 125 for the series, but chose just 10 photos, on view at the Gagosian gallery, to print at this monumental scale. What’s intriguing to note is that he cleverly uses portraiture, instead of the landscape, to define the theme of the series—the American West. In other words, he defines the region through portraiture…not landscape…by capturing remarkable images of its inhabitants. Many regard it as a key moment in both Avedon’s portraiture as well as the genre of photographic portraiture in America.
In terms of technique, Avedon used an 8 x 10-Deardorff field camera, which was positioned close to his subjects. Avedon also used natural light and the seamless white backdrop to emphasize his subject’s features, poses, and expressions.
Where: Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, California