Portraits, 1976


Portraits, 1976

Author: Richard Avedon

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York

Essay by: Harold Rosenberg


The following is quoted from the original essay by Harold Rosenberg:


"Avedon's photos aim to restore to his subjects the solidity of being. To this end, he has returned to older aspects of portraiture––one might say he has fought his way back to this art through tides of illusionistic effects made possible by photography and by experiments in the accidental and the unpremeditated. His photos depend entirely on prearranged conditions leading to a final leap into the unknown. Avedon has rejected the limitless fecuncity of candid shots in favor of the conscious pose––but shorn of photographic hoaxing through mood lighting and stage props. With him, pose means only that the sitter confronts the camera knowingly, thus wearing a face that is a product of nature and his own act. In the last analysis, the no-comment faces and bodies which Avedon thrusts before the spectator are in accord with the conviction of Giacometti, the most profound portraitist of the mid-twentieth century, that any ultimate portrait is unattainable."