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Thread: Avedon

  1. #31
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Avedon

    Who do I like? Well, I'm admittedly not a people photographer myself very often. But in terms of an apples to apples comparison of those who could get into people's face, wanted or not, I'd rate the obnoxious images of Avedon far far below our best known local example, Dorothea Lange, who could put empathy, context, and composition all in a frame, and who was expected to get the job done on about 1% of Avedon's budget. If it took 17,000 negatives to complete that one 130 image pretentious project, that's gotta be the worst track record I've ever heard of. That less than a 1% success rate.
    And I'll repeat, Avedon never was in the West, at least psychologically, because he didn't seem to see a damn thing. He was just bringing marketable NYC stereotypes of the West with him. Should have stayed in NYC and kept taking pictures of corny models wearing suits made from recycled tin cans.
    I'm not numb to how some of his strategies were quite creative in their day, but now it's like Starbucks, one on every corner, and I'm sick of it. Two people I go out of my way to avoid seeing over and over and over again are Avedon and Warhol. I doubt either one could even spell the word, "nuanced". Like a pie in your face every time.

  2. #32
    Helcio J Tagliolatto's Avatar
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    Re: Avedon

    Like those Annie Leibovitz landscapes. She used a helicopter, did not put her feet in the mud and dust.

  3. #33
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Avedon

    To elaborate a tiny bit : both Avedon and Warhol made it their career objective to become mass-distributed visual commodities; and that's exactly what happened. If others find that kind of endpoint admirable, that's fine with me; I'm just not one of them.

  4. #34

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    Re: Avedon

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    To elaborate a tiny bit : both Avedon and Warhol made it their career objective to become mass-distributed visual commodities; and that's exactly what happened. If others find that kind of endpoint admirable, that's fine with me; I'm just not one of them.
    And they both made very good livings from that. You may as well include Bert Stern, Gowland, And almost every other successful pro in the list.

  5. #35
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Avedon

    Yes, they were commercially successful, very much so. But if getting rich at it is your yardstick of a great photographer, then you're going to have to scratch an awful lot of them off your list. But you missed my main point, Bob. Making a living is one thing, concocting a commodity as an art form is another. That pertains more to Warhol. But both men make me think of the 60's as the Dark Ages of American Art. Wish it would just go away; stale, over-stale, overtly stale.

  6. #36

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    Re: Avedon

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Yes, they were commercially successful, very much so. But if getting rich at it is your yardstick of a great photographer, then you're going to have to scratch an awful lot of them off your list. But you missed my main point, Bob. Making a living is one thing, concocting a commodity as an art form is another. That pertains more to Warhol. But both men make me think of the 60's as the Dark Ages of American Art. Wish it would just go away; stale, over-stale, overtly stale.
    And now, Peter Lik.

  7. #37
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Avedon

    MY Gosh, Bob .... Avedon obviously isn't my favorite photographer, but he has firmly and deservedly earned a recognized niche. Peter Lik just makes gaudy oversized kitchy postcards; he's more in the lineage of Kinkade : lowbrow, not highbrow. Neither Kinkade or Lik get even an atom of respect from the Haute Art hierarchy, once in awhile a crude joke or belly laugh, that's about it. I accidentally cracked up the first time I walked into a Kinkade Gallery, I couldn't help it; and I nearly threw up the first time I walked into a Lik Gallery (I'm not exaggerating); the two worst colorists I've ever seen. But I'll probably get a few more people pissed off with that comment.
    I had someone cuss me out at an opening once. He couldn't figure out what the image was; the complexity of the image planes really messed with his head. I didn't mind. Actually, I was fascinated by his reaction. The curator obviously like the print; otherwise, it wouldn't have been there. But all of that kind of thing is about personal esthetic response, just like my opinion of Avedon. It doesn't mean I'd necessarily dislike him as a person if I met him. He was probably a very interesting person.
    In the case of Kinkade or Lik, there are ethical questions, involving slippery marketing, which in the long run collapsed Kinkade's little empire, especially once he was facing fraud charges. People eating at Jack in the Box might have liked what they tasted (yecch), but selling kangaroo meat as beef happens to be illegal. Calling a fancy mass-produced poster an original painting is also illegal. Kincade typically put a dot or two of real paint on those personally in order to squeak past the laws. But people of that state of mind are on a slippery slope, and he eventually got indicted for franchise fraud. Lik is more likely to get in hot water over too-good-to-be-true snake-oil investment sales pitches. So until the fat lady sings, don't assume such people are successful just because they've moved a lot of commodity.

  8. #38

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    Re: Avedon

    Came to this thread late, but it seems to concentrate on Avedon's American West and similarly minimalist portraits. But he was a fashion photographer for much of his career (rather like Annie Leibovitz) and his famous "Dovima with Elephants" is certainly not a minimalist portrait. I think his work was a lot more wide-ranging than we seem to be giving him credit for. Part of the problem is that the style of well-known photographers like Avedon gets popularized, and over time becomes something of a cliche; we have to realize that when Avedon started, his style was more "his" than it seems now.

  9. #39
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Avedon

    Well, I don't read into his white sheet backdrops a "democratization" of his subjects at all. That's more an art critic's retro assessment, I suspect. At a certain point he found it to be an effective graphic tool, and then kinda became a stuck record with it. For example, note his cookie cutter individual cutouts of steelworkers, welders, etc, splayed like steamed crabs against white backdrops. That was indeed interesting as a graphic novelty at first, but doesn't do much for something allegedly in the West, where it's like looking at zoo animals in artificial cages devoid of any native context, which Avedon would probably have been incapable of appreciating anyway. Maybe some people like that he was an outsider, but it leaves me cold.

  10. #40
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    Re: Avedon

    It helped Avedon to be already famous to sell stuff that others might consider, meh. I think ex-president Bush gets thousands for his oil paintings. Lik's photos look a lot better in person than on the web, at his galleries being shown by really hot sales women who hypnotize you and who you'd like to frame and take home rather than his pictures. Kinkade was a drunk who I think got caught evading taxes. At least he didn't chop off his ear like Van Gogh and made a living from his work also unlike Van Gogh. I'm more like Van Gogh. Not the ear.

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