Richard Avedon

Creator Details

  • Birth

    May 15, 1923 (New York, New York)

  • Death

    Oct. 1, 2004 (San Antonio, Texas)

Richard Avedon was a celebrated fashion and portrait photographer accustomed to working with celebrities, models, and politicians. But when commissioned by the Carter in 1979, he undertook a very different project: photographing a range of people throughout the western U.S. When the exhibition of this work opened in 1985, many found it disparaging: The New York Times thought Avedon had “an artistic vision of the American West as purgatory, if not hell, on earth,” and Art in America asserted that the artist portrayed it “as a blighted culture that spews out casualties by the bucket.” This is not what Avedon said, though; he called In the American West “a tribute” to working-class westerners who lived hard lives. Since then, it has become one of the most important photographic projects of the 20th century, and the Carter owns one of only two complete sets of the images.


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