Political Ties

category: > Features, > Photography

written by: Jaap Proost

IN 1976 Rolling Stone Magazine approached photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004) to make a series about the political landscape before that years presidential election. He decided to make portraits of the Washington establishment. Senators, congressmen, union leader and members of the media appeared before his white background. Not only it shows the power elite, but also a great variety of seventies ties.
 
It is not surprising that the piece of garment stands out. Avedon started in the early forties his career as a fashion photographer and worked for magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. His pictures were radical in comparison to his colleagues. Instead of using static and emotionless poses, Avedon showed his models in motion, laughing and jumping. For the Rolling Stone assignment he did the opposite. The persons in the pictures look distant, many of them have the hands in their pockets. The old George Bush (#2), at that time director of the CIA, looks wonderfully arrogant.
 
This approach was Richard Avedon’s answer to new journalism, at that time the USP of the magazine. The editors used only the sort biographies from Who’s Who to accompany the pictures. The title is the only warm element of the piece.
 
The project ‘The Family’ was a turning point for Avedon. After that he focused more on journalism instead of fashion. The reportage ‘In the American West’ is considered his magnus opus. Between 1979 and 1984 Avedon photographed various people in the West, like miners and oil field workers, unemployed drifters and teenagers.

 

 

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