I just spent an awesome Sunday afternoon, checking out the Richard Avedon exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center in Stanford. Avedon’s reputation as a photographer precedes him. His work is groundbreaking and innovative. What Robert Kappa is to photojournalism, Helmut Newton to fashion photography, that’s what Richard Avedon is to editorial portrait photography. At least in my book.

The exhibit consists of 63 portraits of men, women and children of the Western American States, in the late 70s to early 80s. Each framed image was larger than life, measuring over 7 feet and devoid of any framing or borders. The stark whiteness of the background forces the viewer to zone in on the subject and examine the little details which may clue us in to their life. The common thread is the expression of acceptance of a life of hardship and circularity. While the images may affect viewers in different ways, the collection as a whole is though provoking and definitely, a bit nerve wracking. I quickly recovered with a quick cup of coffee.

Some of the photos from the exhibit are above. The complete collection is featured in the book, “In the American West, 1979-1984,” which is currently unavailable on amazon.com, but for sale at Cantor Art Center museum shop.

If you have a free day from now until May 6, do check out “In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon.” More details can be found here. Everything is free, except the parking.

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