Thursday, June 23, 2011

'Face Off' by Avedon

This photo by Avedon is actually one of a series taken for the February 1952 cover of Harper's Bazaar in the US. I  actually have the issue in my collection and the images are amazing. I titled this entry 'Face Off' as it appears as if one of the women pictured is about to take out her companion for wearing the same outfit. Not to mention the fact that the model of the right has really bad posture! As a passive viewer of these images it's easy to overlook the brilliance of the composition and lighting. After all it's just a fashion editorial with two women facing each other..or maybe not.

This style of photography comes from an era  before the advent of photoshop and iMacs. It speaks to the reader on both an aspirational and aesthetic level. It also shows that the slender body type favoured by contemporary editors was alive and well in the 1950's. There is a really dreamlike quality to this shot despite the clarity of the focus and the somewhat crazed lap dog in the frame. When I see this image my immediate reaction is Sufi (Dervish) dancers from Turkey, Chanel suits, and the symmetry in the space between the two subjects. Nevertheless, the outcome of Avedon's work is that we see an elegant scene with sylph-like models..while my confused thoughts need a book on Gestalt psychology to see something that's simply  a beautifully framed moment.

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