Thursday, December 3, 2009
Avedon Heart Platon
Happily, I caught the retrospective of Richard Avedon's work at the SFMoMA before it closed this week. Proof again that he continues to shine as a genius of the large print paired with the small gesture.
A self-portrait/triptych, shot near the end of his creative life, continues to fuel my mind. I follow his eyes and hands. From left to right, Avedon leads me from subconscious "huh?", to conscious consideration, and finally to laser focus. His hands, moving from pockets, up to fingers nervously fiddling, settle in the third pose with fingers solidly intertwined. For me, his final hand gesture is a yogic mudra of his wholehearted engagement with the world. Standing in front of these images, I was struck with a lightning bolt of emotion, feeling the presence of RA himself, as if I was being considered as subject, being observed and distilled down to some essence of Self. At the tail end of the last room at this closing exhibit, I heard the photographer's voice, " I saw. I recorded. I continue."
Richard Avedon's influence continues in the work of Platon, whose arresting portrait series of world leaders at the United Nations is in this week's New Yorker Magazine. Be sure to listen to Platon tell how he set up his rig outside the General Assembly podium steps for five days, worked with as little as three seconds per person while having to sneak bites of energy bars out of his camera bag. Fascinating, humanizing, with eyeball-close proximity... Avedon, looking down from his tripod in the clouds, is lovin' 'em.