Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Richard Avedon Photograph Of Robert Frank (With Comment By Eugene Richards)

Robert Frank's photography changed the way I looked at the world and I immediately moved from painting to photography. Richard Avedon, who I watched as an apprentice, changed the way I interpreted the images I looked to record. Eugene Richards sucked the drama out of my vision and gave me clearness.

photographed by Richard Avedon, 1975

The people who made his book The Americans important were the people of my generation - the people who came of age in the late Sixties, that generation of people dealing with the Vietnam War and questions about the country. The book was a fractured view of the country. It addressed a lot of the obvious metaphors for what America was like, and turned them on end. I first saw that book when I came back from the South in the late Sixties, and I was pretty upset about the country. So then you see this photo book that reflects your emotions of the time, and it becomes a very important work to you. It felt very close to what you were experiencing. Later, you saw it as a remarkable personal expression. At first, the book was a combination of politics and art to me. That's what made it inspirational - that you could actually get your political feelings into pictures. I had been trying, and when I saw that book, I felt very much at home with the guy. Frank is very direct and not overly emotional, but a straightforward guy. He's right to the point. He takes life very seriously. He's low-key, kind of egoless, and very harsh at the same time. As for his other work, I've never been disappointed. I don't know how much of a weight that book is around his neck. Probably a lot. It's a book that rocks everybody.

- Eugene Richards