The Film of Life

Richard Avedon, one of the truest masters of contemporary photography, has a stunning collection of his works on display through September 17th at the Columbus Museum of Art.

In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon, is a must-see exhibit that features boldly scaled portraits of truckers, oil workers and drifters. Avedon’s oversized portraits of working class Westerners have become icons in photographic history.

The West has always had a mythological presence within the American consciousness. Avedon’s vision of that world manages to simultaneously deconstruct that mythology and elevate it to an even higher plane through stark honesty and deep humanity.  “Twenty years ago, this ground-breaking exhibition demystified our romantic vision of the American West and profoundly influenced the look of photographic portraiture,” says Columbus Museum of Art Chief Curator, Catherine Evans.

Between 1979 and 1984, Avedon journeyed through 13 states and 189 towns from Texas to Idaho, conducting 752 sittings and exposing 17,000 sheets of film through his 8-by-10-inch Deardorff view camera.  He visited ranches and rodeos, but also went to truck stops, oil fields and slaughterhouses. The subjects he chose for the portraits were ordinary people whose appearance and life circumstances were the antithesis of the glamorous images of the ruggedly handsome cowboy, beautiful pioneer wife, dashing outdoor adventurer or industry mogul.

Take a trip to the museum and stand face-to-face with some of the most emotionally powerful and aesthetically refined American portraits you are likely to see.

For more information about this and other arts related events, go to