by Gaia Vettori (Professor at LABA in Florence)
Richard “Dick” Avedon was born in New York City in 1923 and died in San Antonio, Texas in 2004. Is considered one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.
Known primarily for his enormous contribution in the context of fashion photography – he has revolutionized the imagination of fashion photography, introducing what he called “emotional complexity”–
Avedon has not only collaborated with the most important magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, but it’s also been a real master of the photographic portrait.
The same “emotional complexity” joined the perennial fascination with the transience of life (this element that characterizes the entire photographic production of American master), are sublimated in his intense portraits of both celebrities and ordinary people.
Then, it is thanks to them that proves the power of iconic and expressive Avedon, who, often with simple white backgrounds, was able to instill in his images a communicative power and drama, concrete and realistic.
Convinced that the nature of photography was in performance and that “All photographs are accurate. None of them is truth “, he was able to exploit his disillusionment (for other perfectly appropriate in the context of fashion photography), to create portraits that were a perfect symbolic essence continues testimony of the subject portrayed.
Theatricality, so as a keyword of his work: a theatrics, however, not to be seen as trivial or superficial flaws, but as genuine human being’s attitude in contemporary society, as defensive mechanism deeper expression of individual psychology.
“The right question is not whether the portraits tell the truth about details templates, but if you tell the truth about the experience of the second half of the twentieth century“, claimed the American photographer.
See a portrait of Avedon means then observe the contemporary man, its weaknesses, its joys, its torment and fears.
Exactly as Gaspar Félix Tournachon proved to be able to understand how photography was also able to portray “the similarity of subject … caught in stillness”, almost a hundred years later, Avedon presents us with his portraits this photographic approach enriched.
From modern to post-modern, from the illusion of being able to portray the deep essence of the individual, to the disillusionment that this could really happen because: “No photography is truth.”
The acquisition of such awareness, then took him to further emancipate photography, becoming a real thermometer that measures the degree of torment, anxiety and unrest from modern society, from Avedon regarded as a “theatre of posing”, whose essence mendacious, disillusioned and little genuine was perfectly adjustable by the photographic medium and, in particular, from the picture.
Let us thus bewitch and capture by the powerful images of the American photographer, deep knowledge of the torments of man, perfectly capable of being able to record on film frames of contemporary society, with all its contradictions, with all its faults, lies and falsehoods.
Photography as part of living memory of an individual as an actor and part of this fascinating mise-en-scene the main photographer of which was undoubtedly right Richard Avedon.
Florence – 2 February 2015