Richard Avedon was commissioned to do the series by the Amon Carter Museum. Avedon was called by Mitch Wilder, director of the Amon Carter. Richard Avedon was 55, and had just had his picture on the cover of Newsweek, and a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After a meeting in New York, Avedon agreed with provisos. A test shoot was planned, and executed. Those were the photos made at the Sweetwater Roundup.
The Amon Carter is a museum full of western art. It is also a museum open free to the public. Forth Worth used to be a cow town. Its museums are clustered among cattle and stockyard shows. Many of the most widely read trade journals for ranching and cattle breeding are within a half mile of the museum cluster — certainly not a View From An Eastern Window.
“In the West” opened at the Amon Carter — the prints dominated the viewers — oversized portraits of hitch-hikers, drogers, oil field workers, gas station attendants, horse trainer, circus roustabouts… looking down on the Fort Worth museum goer — docents, and patrons all, smaller than who was portrayed.
Where is the West?
Avedon’s west was people. The people who lived where space is the scene; where travel is necessarily long, long enough to be alone, sometimes for days. The west is sparse. Some of the people are as open as the space they traverse. Open, but cautious
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