washington-and-san-francisco

Rosalind Solomon and Richard Avedon

The Corcoran Gallery of Art and Sander Gallery; University Art Museum, Berkeley and Stephen Wirtz Gallery

“I really disapprove of photographing celebrities or known beauties,” Walker Evans once said. “You just get the celebrity ready-made in front of you, push the button, and you’ve got something everybody wants to see. It’s much too easy to do. . . . The moment you do something at an editor’s request or because that person is famous, you’re doing journalism. And the trick is knowing the people who are getting done, not doing the picture at all.” So much for Richard Avedon and Rosalind Solomon, whose reputations as photographers depend on just the sort of picture Evans rules out. Evans goes too far when he implies that it is not only the subject’s celebrity but the picture itself which is “ready-made.” He is suggesting that anybody could make pictures with such subjects, which isn’t true. But I bring up Evans because I think that when he criticizes celebrity portraits as “something everybody

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