I chose to review Richard Avedon’s work because it presents fashion and beauty as a preeminent aspect of pop culture; while his photos may not always showcase prevalent models and fashion designers, he created a way to showcase the fashion beautifully. In each of the photos that I included, the clothing is clearly the most engaging aspect of the photograph. Consequently, even when the subject of the photo is Marilyn Monroe, the viewer’s eye is drawn to her dress. While her face looks charming and pretty, and a viewer can tell that she is wearing the dress (and not vice versa), the concentrated gaze provokes a sense of confusion… Why is a woman who looks so concentrated, yet spacey, wearing such a bold and powerful outfit? The story of Monroe and the troubled life she led (with a persona of complete confidence and a mind of intense insecurity), however, provides insight as to why Avedon may have photographed her in this way.
This photo aligns with the style of many of Avedon’s photographs. While the figures are often emaciated beyond comprehension, thus presented as mere figures in the composition of the photographs, the clothing they wear is displayed prominently.
This photograph also aligns with the concept I mentioned above. While the subject is thin, as is fitting for a fashion photograph, the coat she is wearing consumes her body in a beautiful way. While it may take up the majority of her figure, it highlights many features that are regarded as womanly and elegant: a long neck (with the large, exaggerated collar), her tiny hands (with one hidden in the pocket, and the other squeezed tightly around the umbrella handle), and her long legs (which the viewer can assume are lengthy by the proportion of her calves to the rest of her hidden body).