Why I Prefer Richard Avedon over Henri Cartier-Bresson

Why I might like Richard Avedon over Henri Cartier-Bresson:

  1. Avedon as more confident, humanistic.
  2. Avedon as realizing the ultimate beauty is the human and human form. HCB thought it was geometry, surrealism.
  3. Avedon as more prolific. HCB gave up after around 30 years. Avedon went well into his 80s, towards his death.
  4. Avedon as being bolder with his artistic vision. Avedon as admitting that his photos were about himself, whereas HCB had the pretense that he was the “objective outside observer”. Also the difference between HCB’s portrait of the duke and duchess vs Avedon’s depiction.

Avedon vs HCB (Duke and Duchess):

HCB photo of Duchess and Duke. Certifiably fake.
Avedon version. Much more real and raw.

Sontag by HCB vs Avedon

HCB version. Sontag as very kind looking, sweet, and pretty:

France. Paris. American writer, Susan SONTAG.

AVEDON version. Sontag as worn and weathered:

How could Avedon gone further?

Avedon was a great street photographer. I wish he continued his “In the American West” project (which Avedon said it was a project he wished he could have worked on forever).

Also, perhaps he wasted too much of his life photographing famous people and fashion. It seems his most powerful photos are of “ordinary” people.

In praise of monochrome

Avedon has some good color photos. But it is true there is something timeless about monochrome.

Monochrome doesn’t age — color does.

Also, color makes things and people more realistic. I wonder if we prefer the idea of people as symbols (abstracted monochrome), than the real thing. For example we prefer white marble statues of Ancient Greece and Rome — whereas I think many of them were painted in garish colors.

Photos by Avedon

More Avedon

From the iPad AVEDON app:

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