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Woman in the Mirrorby Richard Avedon
Synopses & Reviews
Among the significant projects of the last year of his life, Richard Avedon (1923-2004) completed a book of his photographs of women. Always transcending categorization-he was both a fashion photographer and known as a "poet of portraiture"-Avedon was interested in seeing how elemental facts of modern life and human existence were reflected in his work. And what could be more elemental than women, who have mesmerized artists across the centuries?
Looking at his work in this way, Avedon was able to create an unparalleled view of women in his time, a tumultuous half century of rapidly changing social facts, cultural ideals, popular styles, and high fashion. As an artist, Avedon was deeply responsive to nuances of expression, gesture, and comportment, and his photographs unfailingly opened a window to the interior lives of his subjects. These ranged from celebrities (Marilyn Monroe), artists (Marguerite Duras, June Leaf), and high-fashion models (Suzy Parker, Dovima) to anonymous people that simply drew his attention. Like the best of art and literature, they evoke rich lives and complex experiences.
An incisive essay by art historian Anne Hollander offers an overview of a half century of Avedon's images of women.
"Wealthy or poor, young or old, famous or infamous, all of Avedon's subjects are photographed with the same stark, minimalist touch. This new collection spans five decades of the late photographer's work and focuses on the portraiture king's pictures of women. Beginning with a simple, joyous image of the Italian actress Anna Magnani in all her hearty, make-free glory and ending with a casual, breezy shot of mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, the loosely chronological succession of Avedon's primarily black-and-white shots demonstrates that, while the idea of photographing women is nothing new, the way the former Harper's Bazaar and Vogue contributor approached his subjects was. As explained in art historian Hollander's ending essay, Avedon was the first photographer to break down the barriers between high, 'serious,' photography and low, 'non-serious,' photography by applying his intimate, shadowy style to all of his subjects, regardless of their social background. It is a shift that can be seen in the stirring juxtapositions of toothless street performer Zazi with the model Dorian Leigh, and the full-bodied field marshal Gloria Gonzales with the petite Rose Kennedy. A treat for devotees and newcomers alike, the collection showcases both Avedon's fashion work and celebrity portraits, including such fantastic shots as a bejeweled and be-gowned Elton John in a mid-punch stance and a sexy Geoffrey Beene model posing with a skeleton." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Avedon initiated the effort to compile a selection of his photos of women and began poring over thousands of contact sheets spanning 1946 through 2004; the project was completed after his sudden death in 2004. This oversize volume (11.5x14<">) presents 125 photos in tritone and 10 in color. Some are of models in designer clothes acting a part; others are of famous or not-so-famous people in real or contrived activity; each tells dozens of stories and arouses dozens of questions about the nature of character and style, image and self- image. Art historian and critic Anne Hollander provides an essay discussing the evolution of fashion and fashion photography and Avedon's profound contributions.
Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
An incisive essay by art historian Anne Hollander offers an overview of Avedon's images of women. He was able to create an unparalleled view of women in his time, a tumultuous half century of rapidly changing social facts, cultural ideals, popular styles, and high fashion.
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