Avedon at Work

Wilson, Laura

| 2003

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Internationally acclaimed for his portraits of powerful and accomplished people and women of great beauty, Richard Avedon was one of the twentieth century's greatest photographers-but perhaps not the most obvious choice to create a portrait of ordinary people of the American West. Yet in 1979, the Amon Carter Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, daringly commissioned him to do just that.The resulting 1985 exhibition and book, In the American West, was a milestone in American photography and Avedon's most important body of work. His unflinching portraits of oilfield and slaughterhouse workers, miners, waitresses, drifters, mental patients, teenagers, and others captured the unknown and often-ignored people who work at hard, uncelebrated jobs. Making no apologies for shattering stereotypes of the West and Westerners, Avedon said, "I'm looking for a new definition of a photographic portrait....

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