cover image Evidence: 1944-1994

Evidence: 1944-1994

Richard Avedon. Random House (NY), $65 (183pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40922-9

With a seeming disregard for genres, photographer Avedon applies the same compositional intelligence to animated fashion shots, nightmarish images of a state mental hospital, austere portraits of politicians, artists, writers, grainy images of drifters and factory workers. This catalogue of a retrospective at Manhattan's Whitney Museum contains many pictures that will be instantly recognizable to readers of Avedon's recent An Autobiography , but it also includes a lot of new, early and unfamiliar work. Defending Avedon against critics who charge him with cold manipulation or sensationalism, New Yorker art critic Gopnik views his work as part of a theatrical tradition in photography, a carefully orchestrated interpretation of late 20th-century life. Livingston, the exhibit's curator, provides a wide-angled critique of Avedon's opus from his 1940s studies of New York City's Central Park to recent portraits of Alabama governor George Wallace, NYC black activist Rev. Al Sharpton and gays in the military. (May)