The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik to Present Free Lecture on In The American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon

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Release date: 
September 14, 2005

FORT WORTH, Texas --- Author and award-winning journalist Adam Gopnik will present a free lecture entitled Avedon’s West Revisited on Saturday, October 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the Darnell Street Auditorium of the Kimbell Art Museum. Part of the Amon Carter Museum’s ongoing series of Anne Burnett Tandy Distinguished Lectures on American art, this program is presented in conjunction with the special 20th-anniversary exhibition of In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon, on view at the Carter until January 8, 2006. It is the first of two Anne Burnett Tandy Distinguished Lectures on American Art presented by the Carter for the exhibition.

Gopnik and Richard Avedon were close friends and frequent collaborators for more than 20 years. Since 1986, Gopnik has been a writer for The New Yorker; Avedon became that magazine’s first staff photographer in 1992. Gopnik was also a contributing essayist to Evidence 1944--1994, the catalogue that accompanied the Avedon retrospective exhibition of the same name, which opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1994.

Gopnik said that his lecture, which happens to take place on the first anniversary of Avedon’s death, will discuss how In the American West changed the photographer’s vision of what a photographic portrait could and ought to be. “I will try to place Avedon’s work in the context of other modern portrait making, and at the same time try to distill its own particular presence,” he said.

When Richard Avedon died in October 2004, Gopnik wrote a piece in The New Yorker celebrating not only Avedon’s work but also his passion for living an ordinary life. In it he wrote, “As long as people remain curious about life in the twentieth century, they will turn to Avedon’s photographs to see how it looked, and what it meant.”

The original exhibition of In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon opened in 1985 at the Amon Carter Museum to both great praise and intense criticism. Assertive, controversial, and graphically striking, the portraits in the exhibition generated extensive and at times heated discussion about the nature of portraiture, photography and the true identity of the American West. Avedon’s oversize portraits of working class westerners have become icons in photographic history, and the project still stands as a definitive expression of the power of photographic art.

The second free lecture in the Tandy series for the Avedon exhibition will be given by independent author and curator Jane Livingston on Saturday, October 22 at 10:30 in the Amon Carter Museum auditorium. Livingston co-curated the 1994 retrospective at the Whitney and was also a contributing essayist for the catalogue.