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Richard Avedon's American West

In 1979 the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, commissioned photographer Richard Avedon to travel the American West in order to make a series of portraits of people he found at locations including rodeos, mining camps, cattle ranches, and slaughterhouses. The project, titled In the American West, took Avedon and his team of assistants to 189 towns in 13 states over a five-year period. From 17,000 sheets of film exposed during 752 sittings, 124 photographs were ultimately selected for the series. The images not only departed from the romanticized depictions of the region previously found in art and film, but also were printed at a scale that was extremely rare for the time.

Richard Avedon
New York City, NY 1923–San Antonio, TX 2004
Danny Lane, Fourteen Year Old, Christine Coil, Seventeen Year Old, Calhan, Colorado, 7/31/81
Gelatin silver print flush-mounted to aluminum, 1981; printed 1985
60 x 47 1/2 inches
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Olga N. Sheldon Acquisition Trust, U-6766.2018

For the series In the American West, Avedon posed his subjects in front of a portable white backdrop and photographed them with a large 8x10 view camera.