In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

TheCanadian Review of Amencan Studies, Volume VIII, Number 2, Fall, 1977 Pictures in/ and Print Belll'een Friends!Entre Amis. Edited by Lorraine Monk. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, l976. 294 pp. Robert Hameyand Harold Troper. Immigrants: A Portrait of the Urban£\penence, /890-1930. Toronto and New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold , 1975. 212pp. Michael Lesy.Real Life: Louisville in the Twenties. New York: Pantheon Books, 1976.237 pp. Yousuf Karsh. Karsh Portraits. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976 203pp. Richard Avedon. Portraits. Introductory essay by Harold Rosenberg. New York:Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976.Unpaged. Robert White Inthefall of 1976, two weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Rolling Stoneprinted (on its usual tabloid-paper stock) 73 of Richard Avedon's painfullystraightforward photographic portraits. This portfolio of photographs , titled "The Family 1976," constituted the whole of the center matter forthat issue. According to the editors, Renata Adler, author of the then recently published Speedboat, assisted in assembling the portfolio, and "the finaledit - from more than 100 portraits - was done by her. Aside from theaccompanying Who's Who biographies, there is no text; we think the portraits speak for themselves." Avedonis a master photographer, and the October 21, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone will probably become a collector's item. But the conception andexecution of the project raise several questions having to do with the functionsof photography in our culture, particularly when the '"photographicprint " is transmuted to a ''printer's print" and becomes part of the"text" of books, magazines, and newspapers - loses its individuality asit becomes infinitely reproducible and is to a certain extent absorbed bythe conventions, both linguistic and mechanical, of such media. The Rolling Stone editors "think the [Avedon] portraits speak for themselves," buttheir assertion prompts at least two rejoinders: Rolling Stone did not , reallyrisk letting the photographs stand alone (the essential gambit and riskof both Avedon and his subjects), but edited and provided them with .1verbal surround; photographs, which are intrinsically non-verbal, may hesaidto "speak" only metaphorically. 166 Initially, Rolling Stone had commissioned from Avedon a photographicf chronicle of the 1976 electoral campaign. According to the editors, though. I Avedon soon concluded that the "real story was not simply the candidates.1 but a broad group of men and women - some of whom we had never heard of before - who constitute the political leadership of America." This; "real story" - not a mere "chronicle" - is what Rolling Stone attempts to put across to its readers. The ''story," however, is not unfolded merely by letting the photographs "speak for themselves." Instead, they have bee~ edited (assembled in an artful fashion), and enveloped in winding sheets of irony. According to William Satire, the use of the term "the establishment ," to denote "a permanent power center," has recently been displaced· in American English by the more domestic phrase, "the community"; Rolling Stone (Avedon? Adler?), however, chose the even more ironically loaded "The Family" to designate "the political leadership of America.'' The members of this family (even Rose Mary Woods, who was certainhi not close to the corridors of power in 1976 but whom Avedon unforgettably; captured on film) have all made it into Who's Who; someone had the, idea ofjuxtaposing the dense print and abstract biographies of the referencel entries to the wary expressions and close-up details of Avedon's photographsl - and thus another type of irony came to invest the photographs. Such ironies, however, are much more dependent on knowing how to read print} than on any familiarity with the vocabulary of photography. In fact,a high degree of print sophistication is required; since the Who's Who entriesf never match up contiguously to particular photographs, one has to shuffle 1 pages to indulge in ironic reflections - with such ironies being perhaps inadvertently enhanced when one tracks Hubert Humphrey and his alphabetic successors through the back pages cluttered with album and hi-fl ads. This trailing-off of the Who's Who entries into the back of the book1 points up the extent to which the entire project has been "edited" (and· not merely by Renata Adler) to take into account the expectations of the "reader." Since that reader has probably "never heard of before" man) of...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 165-179
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.