20th-Anniversary Tour Ends at Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University
In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon
February 14 – May 6, 2007
Stanford, California — The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University announces the presentation of In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon, February 14–May 6, 2007. The Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, originally presented the exhibition in 1985, then again put a major portion of the original works on view September 2005 in a 21st-century reprise of the original show. In 2006, the 20th-anniversary exhibition goes on a national tour, which ends at the Cantor Arts Center.
“No one who saw the original exhibition 'In the American West' in 1985 could forget the impact and beauty of Avedon’s colossal images. The Cantor Arts Center is thrilled to show this ground-breaking project to a new generation of museum-goers who will be amazed and inspired by the medium in the hands of the great master," said Hilarie Faberman, the Center's Robert M. & Ruth L. Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Richard Avedon was already world famous for elevating fashion photography to an art form and for his insightful portraits of men and women of accomplishment, when the Amon Carter Museum’s first director, Mitchell A. Wilder, saw Avedon’s 1978 portrait of a Montana ranch foreman. Wilder asked the artist to make portraits of others across the American West under the sponsorship of the Amon Carter Museum. From 1979 to 1984, Avedon traveled through 13 states and 189 towns from Texas to Idaho, exposing 17,000 sheets of film through his 8-by-10-inch Deardorff view camera.
Focusing on the rural West, Avedon visited ranches and rodeos, but he also went to truck stops, oil fields, and slaughterhouses. Rather than playing to the western myths of grandeur and space, he sought out people whose appearance and life circumstances were the antithesis of mythical images of the ruggedly handsome cowboy, dashing outdoor adventurer, or beautiful pioneer wife. The subjects he chose for the portraits were ordinary people, coping daily with personal cycles of boom and bust.
Instead of glamorizing these figures, he brought their various human frailties to the forefront. All his subjects are pictured against a seamless white backdrop that removes any reference to place, and many of the portraits are dramatically oversized, shocking in their stark detail. Visitors to the exhibition come face-to-face with images that shattered stereotypes of a glorified region.
A majority of the photographs have not been seen in the United States since the initial tour. Sixty three of the original 124 portraits will be on view in this exhibition, including all of the project’s most important and best-known images. Amon Carter Museum Senior Curator of Photographs John Rohrbach began working with Avedon in early 2003 on image selection and installation design. Following Avedon’s death in late 2004, Rohrbach continued to work on the exhibition with The Richard Avedon Foundation.
The New York publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc., reissued the exhibition catalogue with a new introductory preface by Rohrbach. The catalogue, with 174 pages and 120 reproductions is available in the Cantor Arts Center Bookshop for $35 soft cover and $75 hard cover.
In the American West is organized by the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Generous funding for the exhibition is provided by the Katrine M. Deakins and Crystelle Waggoner Charitable Trusts, Bank of America. Presentation at the Cantor Arts Center is made possible by The Cowles Charitable Trust, Gilbert Ellenberger, an anonymous donor, and Cantor Arts Center members.
- Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Sept. 17, 2005 – Jan. 8, 2006
- Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio
June 24 – Sept. 17, 2006
- Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona
Oct. 21, 2006 – Jan. 14, 2007
- Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, California
Feb. 14 – May 6, 2007