By Blake Gopnik
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 15, 2008 ....
.... The project's also risky for the Corcoran. The impoverished gallery has a long-standing reputation for pandering to ticket buyers; hosting an overstuffed survey of yet another celebrity photographer -- after last year's Ansel Adams and Annie Leibovitz events -- looks perilously close to selling out. Art lovers groaned when the Avedon show was announced. Only the hard work and scholarship of curator Paul Roth -- his catalogue essay, though more focused than the show, has 264 footnotes -- has made the risk pay off. There's an Avedon here we haven't seen much of before, and it's the one the photographer himself seemed most committed to.
I met Avedon a half-dozen or so times (he was the close friend of a sibling). When I praised the fashion photos I thought were his greatest work, he disagreed. He preferred his images of what-you-see-is-what-you-get reality.
The Avedons at the Corcoran give us the real Henry Kissinger. The authentic Andrew Young. The unadorned Ronald Reagan. The actual Duke and Duchess of Windsor. But also the authentic Abraham Rosenthal, Pete Rozelle and Evelyn Lincoln.
Who? Precisely. The crucial thing about Avedon's approach is he's an equal-opportunity authenticator. Here you are, in the presence of someone who's supposed to be the greatest recorder of the nation's great and mighty, and you can't tell the players without a scorecard.
Look at Avedon's group portrait of the Chicago Seven, famous opponents of the Vietnam War,( Collapse )