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A special edition of First Friday, presenting Connie Goldman's "Richard Avedon - A Sound Portrait.” Goldman interviews photographer Richard Avedon. They discuss Avedon’s work, and his thoughts and process of photography. Formally a reporter at MPR, Goldman has since produced several radio profiles. An exhibit of Avedon's work, "Richard Avedon: Evidence 1944-1994", was at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

This is PRI Public Radio International. I'm Connie Goldman and this hour you'll hear a sound portrait of the renowned portrait photographer Richard Avedon funding for this broadcast has been provided by the Eastman Kodak company. Get me out of everything phase go to go up and go and have their lives. Marriages love sex everything diminishes work does not work when you're done you have work that was Richard Avedon recognized as one of the leading photographers of the 20th century by no less an authority than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Avedon is credited with elevating fashion photography to an art form. That's where he made his early reputation. Yep beginning in 1970 with his first Exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts of what Avedon then labeled my deeper work. He let it be known he considered himself a portrait photographer. We know easily recognized his powerful unembellished black and white images that have been seen in a multitude of exhibitions and reproduced in several volumes published throughout the past 25 years is portraiture, although favoring. The conscious pose is unadorned by mood lighting on. Props through the years the ingredients have remained the same a white background the sitter the camera and Avedon his Stark powerful and often controversial portraits include the Rich and Famous as well as the unknown and uncelebrated Avedon stature in the art world and the opening of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1994 brought with it the obligation of TV appearances book signings, and an abundance of public contact. Although Richard Avedon is a very private person and would much prefer to spend his days in the studio working this past year has been consumed with public commitments. That is the enemy of artistic Endeavor or creativity, which is self-promotion. It's important that I do it. I mean, you were around for the my first interview in the world was to you. I never done it before and now you're talkin to a media hack. I mean I have to it's in my contract all my contract. for exhibitions Alpha books that I will promote to the best of my ability. Do television interviews these books my sense of of existing in the world? My knowledge of that. Nose and if my books don't sell it won't be another book. So it's in my own best interest which means the best interest if I work. That I become this other person. I bet my life Billy Abbott supporting Myself by doing appetizing. So I hope I understand the marketplace very well, but what I cannot ride in tandem. These two very disparate qualities. The one that talks about work is what I'm doing now, and the one that doesn't when you're doing work, you don't talk about it. You can describe what you doing to the person closest to you at least in my case. It's not an intellectual processes tapping. making accessible my unconscious needs with a lifetime of craft is too fragile to play around with and it certainly too fragile fragile to try to codify and put into These the sound bites his fortune cookies is to reduce them to be productive about anything as complicated as the making of work Richard Avedon, and I have a history 25 years ago while installing his first portrait exhibition in Minneapolis. He took a break from his non-stop day and went Outdoors to relax briefly under a tree. He had rejected all media interviews and other reporters had given up and left the scene. I tentatively approached him and asked if I might join him, I nervously chatted with Richard Avedon for a minute or two and then I asked the big question. May I turn on my tape recorder? And that's how it happened an intimate conversation. That was one of those rare magic moments when a level of comfort and confidence was established that has lasted through the last three decades since them, although we've seen each other only a handful of times on each occasion. Our interview session has been a unique and memorable experience our second meeting took place when his book portraits was published in 1976. It was then he said this Since we last man I moved into my studio. I live upstairs. And I have some files and some of them are my correspondence in the other on my shirts and there's a small room which is nice because it has a fireplace and Windows onto the roof. And the walls are made of beaver board bulletin board has painted white so that there is always what I'm working on tacked up on the wall so that I wake up in the middle of the night. Early in the morning. I can just go into the adjoining room and there it is and I can work on it. and in the morning, I just walk downstairs make some coffee in the staff arrives and we start the days were. Edit that's very comfortable for me. I'm apparently that kind of animal. I recorded a third conversation in 1985 when the exhibition in the American West began a Museum tour Avedon had worked 5 years traveling in the west going to truck stops in to Coal Mines walking through crowds at fairs and rodeos looking for faces. He wanted to photograph. This would be a collection of portraits of people who are often ignored or overlooked. We didn't see each other again until the winter of 1995. We met in his New York studio. And once again, I turned on my tape recorder The Way I Live Now is the way I've lived most of my adult life after family life after my son grew up and left home and became his own man. I live above my studio. I work seven days a week something to do with work. This interview is work working on my books as work the room that I looked at was sitting in now. Which has been my room for almost 20 years. Was covered ceiling to floors. They were clippings pinned into the wall so that you couldn't see the wall beneath a set of pentimento of the things you could pull one off and see one from 10 years before I 6 years before and the range from flying dolphin's to Fred Astaire to sports pictures to people photographed before they were killed by Stalin to Well, I can't even begin family pictures friends with the Advent of my exhibition in the books. Magazines came in and photographed me in the room. My grandchildren's parents were in this room. That was a great America Civil War American flag on the left-hand wall Very eccentric and I think in some symbolic way. When the books have come out in the show up again to travel I looked around. I thought this room is no longer my room. The room turned against me the room became my enemy the room became something that was no longer private no longer my own world it belong to magazines at the promotion and two things that sell books. It's like, you know it letting the inside of your mind. Republican public property so I said I'm going to take all of this down and start over again and then begin a room that has to do with this new and possibly last. My life. So I took every single thing out of the room. and now I'm beginning to reinvent the room that I love the space that I live in and I think that that has something to do with the server precursor to Reinventing my life for this next. What's interesting about it and where it was chaotic before and now looks like someone sensible trying to recreate the room that Richard Avedon worked and lived in for 20 years has decided to sort of copy that badly clean it all up organize the proportions. It looks like like a god Art Gallery one place. It looks like a Bad imitation of a set of exciting chaos and is very it's going to be me and right now it's still in process very nice. Very precise every single book every record every clipping that doesn't have meaning for me is going out so that all the the excess all the junk all the too much of everything which I thrived on will be pared down to kind of calm and I think I did put a bed in the middle of this room with a lot of chairs around it so that I can sleep in a number of places. I'll sleep in my bedroom or I can sleep back here which is in the back of the building. So it's quieter, but it's not because a quiet to the Skylight here, which means that I would wake up in the morning when the sun came up. It sounds very much. Like you're talkin about simplifying in many ways. This is too much going on in this building is my my mind has been lately like a big junkyard or drawer with everything in it out of order. You open the drawer and Skip centuries and people in the soul like the bulletin board was which I had a very exciting like the world is like that the world doesn't seem to perceive had a logically. I think I'm trying to eat. You're right. I'll give it a little bit of water. It's interesting that you're consciously redesigning your living space and redesigning. How are you going to live and work? Has anything changed in the way you actually work? I work with more. confidence and with more Surety Now that I used to. Minecraft has become as subliminal automaticas as automatic writing of calligraphy I know. To experience so many things about photography the diff of the pot becomes more difficult and Suzy azzam is my Hunger is my drives my way of expressing my feelings and put put those feelings into my work because the feelings themselves or atrophy, you know, you begin to cool. I'm cooling. And my work is not about yourself cool work. So I have to deal with. the thing you just observed nothing. I've just described about a more organized life and wanting more passionate work. Ahead of those two things will will find that way in this hour you'll hear a number of segments from my collection of recorded sessions. It was Avedon suggestion that this current sound portrayed be a conversation with himself a dialogue at age 72 with the younger Avedon. Sometimes he responded directly to his earlier words. Sometimes they simply stimulated a new independent thought both his early words and the two portions of our interview will give you insight into a complex reflective and work driven artist described by one journalist as a man pulled through life by his eyes is this music will often identify the beginning of his earlier words and this sound The end of the segments for example, Avedon said this about his portraits 18 years ago. I used to say my serious work about the portraits that was as if that wasn't serious work and I think I said that Because I was praised and and referred to as a fashion photographer. I don't think I would have made that separation. If I had been called the photographer Rich that but for very many years when my portraits were shown in the two books that I did. I was reviewed considered as fashion photographer Richard Avedon turns his lens to the ugly side of life me things that had nothing to do with me and I wanted not to be praised for my work but too big for my work my portraits to be considered. That's all considered as well as as you would consider a writer's work. Not relative to the fashion. Although critics of his work in the 1970s were sometimes harsh Avedon persisted in expanding his vision then in the mid-eighties when his exhibition in the American West open Avedon made this comment. My technique of Photography hasn't changed at all this been a Common Thread throughout. I've looked for the humanity in the people. I photograph from the beginning. It was a short. Of satirical work very short somewhere back in the late 50s early 60s. And I think over and over again in the body of work and finally when these pictures. Emerge with photographs taken 20 years ago, you'll see the connections between a poet and a Drifter. between the pawnbroker in the model If I hope for anything for these pictures, I hope that he is from now people will be able to look at them and say and see something serious that happened to the quality of life in our country and in my time. And then in our most recent conversation, he said we're living in a very different title about photography what I started out. For example, we were looking at Old photographs from the 60s and know only photojournalist. photograph the civil rights movement and the everyone move Embassy in the 60s. many many pictures done by newspaper photographers But no portraitist traveled all around America photographing the Civil Rights Movement. Element to my poor picture that made it a kind of History a kind of history of the second half of the century a unique eccentric history now. It's a lot harder because I had a kind of a What do you call an exclusive know? If you're a reporter? I had a kind of exclusive on a large part of the world that I don't have anymore if I can get away from my passes photographer and go into some place that has to do with myself today the world today and the world today and my progress may just be a reflection of myself, but I find it very exciting. I no longer know what art is about. I don't know what its purpose is. I don't know what it's for. I don't know who it reaches its price simply than my case. What I do is all I know how to do so I do it and if it were carpentry, I would do that and if we're running a business I would do that. I don't believe that I work about as ever change the world but I do think and I do kind of hope that someday somewhere some young person is going to go into a museum or open a book the way I did when I was young and first rib And find a piece of himself in that existed before his time find that there are some kind of real formation that he's not alone. That's what I guess what I did for me when I needed it and maybe that's what this work will do beyond that. I don't know what the purpose of it all is. I think what I meant, is that one day. I hope the work I done would reach the young person. I was when I need it to be reassured. that I wasn't the only person who felt a certain way and and that I work for that person who was myself who would be born long after I was I don't know what it means what my worst musical therapy cause of the exposure. Because of the exhibitions of the traveling around the world and because of the books, I got a great number of letters. From people who are affected by the work and that's feels good. They're affected many ways. I moved to control emotions the emotions but the work That are generated by the photographs of the work now has a complete life of its own and I very often feel when I when I go into a museum and see my photographs on the wall, but I am just another Observer nothing to do but having made those images because they now have listened in to change between the image. The image keeps changing its meaning by who looks at it. I don't remember What I felt the day. I took the photograph who I was that day. And so would I look at the photograph State. I look at them as a stranger as an another member of the audience behind the public Avedon in his work. There's a person few have had the opportunity to know a self-reflective complex and intense man who only occasionally Reveals His private side when we first met but I wouldn't give an interview and gave you the red did the first one with you. I really thought I was Dopey Dicky which is what you want to hear a funny story Ben bradlee and Sally Quinn have a charity. If they support, which is a wonderful school in Washington for the learning impaired. And they called us and asked if I would receive an award because they had a fundraising dinner. And I assumed Leah Ward was. For my accomplishments as a photographer. I didn't pay my jazz. I just said sure that was 6 months ago. So 6 months go by and when I thought I'd be completely free. Oh my God. I have to go to Washington and it's not one night dinner. It's two days after this is the school you have to have a getting-to-know-you dinner party with the trustees and then that's his big Awards dinner and but I was working so hard. I just got off a plane from Europe. And I had to get back on a plane to go to Washington and Bill My Assistant gave me of Southern portfolio portfolio with all the information about the school and what the occasion was going to be a bad where I sleep where I was going to meet and I sat on the shuttle to Washington reading this stuff and it says I'm getting award for being a learning impaired person who achieve something come out of the closet. I couldn't believe it. I mean I get it. I'm joining the club of Thieves who made So I mean it just you know is true that I didn't graduate high school that I couldn't study in the normal way that ice to this day. I have no proper proper useful memory in the and me and me to ditional sense learning. I mean, I spent a lot of my life in France. I still don't speak French. There's a certain kind of when I was a kid that used to say Dicky if you would only concentrate while I was concentrating but not on school, you know, I was concentrating on things that seem to have no value to my father to myself and to my teachers. So down I go. Make a long story short. They were these extraordinary learning impaired people. a four-star general the woman who created the Holocaust Museum a writer who who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes, you know that movie in that book Fanny someone and that was a dinner cocktail and a dinner with a lot of touchy-feely. Oh you're so wonderful to do this and I too couldn't speak and they called me don't be. We will have to share. I mean, this is believe me nothing I have ever done in my life, you know as a solitary kind of guy that idea that we were all around hugging each other and saying isn't it? Wonderful. We couldn't graduate school and they and they laughed at us and now look who we are. It was really revolting but someway very moving when we went to the school the next morning and I saw all the assorted in the assembly from you know, first grade to high school high school. Asking the very questions that I had guns sharing. I mean I spent so much of my life thinking that I couldn't think and I or that I would Wasn't the equal of many of my friends and Electra Lee? Well, I just have a different kind of mine. I'm completely secure now. I don't feel intimidated by anyone or anything and that's such an advantage over the set of agonizing shyness of my early years where I was only comfortable unhappy in my studio. Where I control the situation, I mean look, I still can't type. I can't read my own handwriting. I can't sit there two phone numbers in the world that I know. I like two and a half. I don't think consecutively a Matic total. I'm instinctual but I can see like a son of a bitch. I never liked the way I looked and the older I get the happier. I am with the way I look and in terms of the way I look I hope and think that maybe when I'm 80 lb something that the photograph I never liked it at my face. I didn't feel that it represented. the guy inside It was the face of someone else. It was in the face of this kind of. anxious Well, I can't I can't describe myself but it just wasn't the vase. The my face was in my photographs not on my skin. Now, my face is is beginning to look like myself by that. I mean the way I feel and the older I get for example, that's what I see the heaviness over my eyelid and and I see the beginning at I like all the stuff that's happened to me. I'm beginning to look like a photograph and I didn't before so I think that that kind of narcissist. the narcissism of in quotes the thing itself has fun. It's like I'm coming together. All the contradictions in me. I no longer contradictory. They seem to be part of a whole that I recognize. spirituality inner peace inner Grove It's just not who I am pieces nothing. I aspired to. inner peace even worse I look for much. I'm just hoping to sustain the turmoil. To be questioning to be anguished to find release and work. I have very little interest in Tranquility. I never have had any of it. I've never been interested in and I've never admired people who have it. When Richard Avedon was in his early 50s, he made this comment. I'm certain he'd say the same thing today. I think if I was without stress. I be in great danger. I amor anxious about waking up in the morning now than I ever was when I was younger. I'm afraid the time is running out by that. I mean the pie 72 you're a geezer and you may be a great one or not, but that the creative the part of creativity that sexual Apartments the drive-in you slackens it's okay, but it's my father said what I asked him at age 80 how his sex life was he said it's not what it was but something well, I'm not going to be able to be satisfied with something in my work. I can be satisfied with something in a lot of other areas of my life, but when it comes to my work, I think I'm at a strong. I'm at a strong point now and I think that's going to go. You were surprised at that. 72 in a few months That's funny. That's not stupid. It's not very far off the mark but what I didn't know that. Was the what Wayans is replaced by something. That is infinitely. Wilder stronger and other words obviously, I don't make love as I did when I was 30. but that kind of what I use would cause Sexual Energy has got right into my demands on myself I know so much more now. What I did on instinct. Alone at the beginning when we first talked and before I now can hold on to the emotional passion of it, but I know what I'm doing. And and when crap I don't exactly want to call a craft cuz it isn't about exposure is in lighting cuz you know that Patrick like one of those ones cry backwards at a certain point you don't have to experiment with that. but I am wiser. That's a dumb word for an artist, but I'm not taken in by my work. I'm not seduced by my work anymore. I got seduced by the new I'm not seduced by success. strawberry what's happened to me and that this doesn't happen in the lifetime that you have not only the depth of work but to Natural success and Worldly attacks and success, you know, it's this is unique. In my experience of for photographer what's happened to me? You're listening to Richard Avedon a sound portrayed on PRI Public Radio International. Western we spoke one thing that you said was I really feel that this time matters. My father called life the battle. Maybe I think of it as a Race Against Time time being the competitor. It's interesting to me. Now that years ago. I felt the time was a competitor 72 it really is. I didn't. I was speaking to a friend last night that someone I've known only for 10 years and it just think of all the things that happened in the last 10 years. And I said, yeah. Did they just had a baby that beginning? A part of their life that I have completed and I thought they've got 10 years and 20 years and thirty is in 40 years. Last 10 years, so it's a rap for me. I don't mean about life but in terms of virility of mind and functioning in the way that I've always function so to the moment then my exhibition stop storing. And I've got my house back in order and I return to being a photographer. Everyday matters cuz I are that many days left. At what happened to me between 80 and 90 might be fun. But you know, I can tell Connie from you replayed my early interviews with you. I can tell the diminishing quality of my mind. Merrick all my ability to organize my thoughts that was very shocking to hear me as organized in my mind is that was then as opposed to us drifting as I am now, so maybe I just put one foot on the ice flow. Maybe a tow. on the flow Best part of it is that I know I work now with a full knowledge of a subtext. I can say I'm not going to I'm going to push this I'm not going to push that I'm going to go for the here and not there. This is for this purpose that's for another purpose and then when I get into it, Because we talked about sex and death before maybe. and this is surely not my field of way of thinking of thought but maybe the driving passion of sex is replaced by the driving. Passion of the knowledge That it's going to be over. So in that way they may be linked. That both have the sense of immediacy both have this sense of this is going to happen. This is going to happen. And if it's happening on My out-of-control Lan control, do I want to be out of control? I think that's what's really interesting and I think that that amount of intensity. I think we must have talked about this and that By facing his death closely with him. I was afraid of it at in mice for myself or even even watching him. I think that gave me a kind of strength about that. Maybe serving me now is each of us age inevitably we Face our mortality many say that confronting our fear of death in some manner is healing and enables us to involve ourselves more passionately in the years. We have left on the death of a parent provides this lesson and growth. So it was with Richard Avedon between 1969 and 1973 Richard Avedon took an extensive series of photographs of his father the portraits Chronicle the Elder Avedon as he changed from an alert well-dressed man in his eighties into a Wither victim of terminal cancer. To the question put to him about this series of photographs what kind of a son would take such pictures of his dying father Avedon responded that the photos do not represent only his father or what he feels for his father. But what it is to be any one of us at the end of our Lives Richard Avedon has spoken of the death of his father each time. We've talked this version of the story was recorded in an earlier interview. This is hard for me. This is the first time I'm blocking. I have talked about it if I haven't done it and can't do it. We weren't very close as father and son. Elsa doll in my youth he was a school teacher and I have had a very very tough life. I was frightened. Of what is meant not to be educated? and I think what he felt the only thing he felt he could give me was to strengthen me. for the for the world A world he sort of as a battle. Well, that's a lot to lay on a three year old. But let us say that that the nature of his intelligence simply wasn't the nature of mine. I can trace very easily how we why I think unless I was born with a visual intelligence and I'm not I don't know anything about the science of that. I certainly chose to encourage it to to go to another continent to leave his area because the precious to learn from him were too strong when I was too young it seemed that math was an endless series. I mean you learn the three years then you got the fives and you got the sevens when you learn addition you had multiplication with no and it was never ever a sense of having come to the end of what the demands were so that as a child I was a drink what was called back by teachers a dreamer. And I would only concentrate. So I simply slipped to another place. And that other place was lasted my hope my entire life as far as my relationship with my father was concerned so that we had very little to say. Whatever he was good. I chose or was not. However, he was interested in I wasn't interested in it. And what I was interested in he had no way of understanding and at a certain point late in his life in his 60s. He his marriage to my mother broke up, but he broken up and he left and went to Florida. and at my son group I have more vividly the realization that that there was a stranger living in Florida who is my father. I wanted two things. I wanted I have a very strong sense of Wanting I mean since life is meaningless, then we have then then that we have to make whatever small meaning as possible out of the time we're here and I have a great sense of continuity and morning and if you lose I felt it if I if I never knew my father. And could really never learn to love him. You can learn to love someone. I'll go make the effort to find him. I was simply be betraying a possibility in life. A necessity of life and I would have nothing I couldn't pass it on my own son. So it was very conscious effort that brought me to Sarasota. And the effort was to find him to have nothing to do with photography. It was too knowing and a sieve was possible that there was anything but I could be anything between us. and at one point in the years of between. I think after quite a while of going down and nothing to do with photography. He remarried I was the best man he but the distance was always there. I had one of those Strokes. I mean one of those great strokes but come to you every once in awhile. He had been a businessman all his life. He left school and went into Broncos retired at bye-bye in the late 70s and complaining about everything spiritless and particular complaining about real estate values in Sarasota at Blooming. and I suddenly it itch. I just said that you sit here talkin about realtor on the porch talking about moving real estate value that you know about real estate and business and I have some money why don't we go into business together and it was just perfect and I couldn't unaware of thought like that was the first time in our lives that we met. Where he really cared and I at that age in my forties or 40 was was interested. I mean, I was interested in what he knew. So there were phone calls that were in the middle of the night marinas are hot is that we got us we bought Havana Heights a swamp. On Route 41 between Sarasota and Venice. He everything in him came alive comparative real. zoning laws app the conversations were fascinating and I really did learn a great deal from him and we had some that we had something to talk about. And at a certain point in this will you for it? I realize it's not funny. It's the same story. He's the father. I'm the son. He knows nothing about me. I'm learning from him. In my need to know I'm better. I'm typing up this interest in real estate that I really don't have. It's got a it'll never work unless it's equal terms and that's what I wrote the letter. I referred to in the last interview that I don't seem to have referred to in which I said and I know it's only because after he died it kept that letter and it was in a scrapbook the only letter for me he ever kept I said, I've learned to a business now. I'm going to ask you to learn my Photography means to me what real estate means to you and I don't I hate giving the best than me to strangers. and nothing to you. I am after all a photographer as you were a teacher in the position on Alabama businessman and photography means a nice guy just said this photography means to me is the work means to you. So it means that it's not snapshots of you and Eleanor waving goodbye or fishing. And I came down the first times with an 8 by 10 camera and assistant and a rider with apricot is so that he would know. that it was Serious, there was no and then I described seven years ago at the beginning was like that. What happened was that I continue to photographing. And he learned what I wanted. Finally, we did speak each other's languages and in some way became involved to the degree that he wanted to give me what I want and he learned a few things since most of my citizen people. I never see you again. There's no such thing as their learning my craft. He learned the craft. So that he could talk to me and look into the lens of the exactly the same time about the most intimate and the most meaningful things to he understood looking into the lens with something necessary. 8 months before he died. He had an operation and from what she had. Absolutely. No. No expectation of of surviving cuz that at 85 or 86 you don't survive a major liver operation. and he said just to give you a sense of what it was like I willed them into the operating room and that he had a little sedation some kind but not all that much and these were what would have been his last words if he died and I consider them his last words because I wasn't with him the moment that he died. And he expected that he wouldn't live through the operation. He was willing to try it. That's a long shot and you looked up at me. Now. This is not a man who ever heard of Beckett who never read? Whoever knew what the word existential man. And you just looked up at me and he said dick is is his aunt isn't. And they shut the door. So you left. and live for 8 months and then across about eight months every time I thought I visited it. We had a sitting and I went to Paris to work in August And came back about 20 by the end of August. immediately flew to Sarasota cuz I knew it was bad when he was on chemotherapy and it was was no expectation of terminal we had a really good week together. T8 we went around about that time. He knew me by that time. We had had some of the funniest times together. I showed him my life. I took him to Miami too funny places when he was in the Army. I smuggled him out of the hospital in the Miami Vice it what was so weakened. What am I going to do with you? I mean if your dying you'll have to die in a hospital bed. We can go out and have a good time, He began to get the sense of what what my sense of humor was like was Justin come out and interview. And I've never been anything available to him. And we did a sitting. Which strangely enough is not the last sitting in the book because you know, my work is not journalism and those pictures are not about the death of a man that is that described in that way, but many of them were done when he was in perfect health. And they are they are more about a certain kind of man in the world. That's all at the end of his life. So that what I did at the end was to juxtapose. It's not I didn't hate them as USA and their end and you can't tell in truth the last two pictures which appear to be the last moment is life. What done the day after the operation? 8 months before he died and the two before those last two. Other ones taken a week before I died and we did the sitting. Spend in almost a week together. I went back to New York the day. I left he stopped eating and 5 days later. He was dead. And I believe that he stayed alive. In order to have that last portrait taken. It seems to me. If you face the thing you're afraid of. Maybe that's built into my photographing my father when he was so sick. If you can front it to do away with it, it's like laying the ghost. Is that the expression. I think photography might be about laying the ghost for me that everything I'm afraid of is what I photograph. I don't feel of fading of anything in myself yet. I feel much more like someone at the end of a race when you pull out all the stops. Let me know what the horse gets to the Finish Line with a runner finally bursts forward. I really feel that this time matters. It's like a kind of exaltation and I kind of Madness a kind of stripping away of of things that are an essential. I'm I have a carapace around me. I'm not hurt anymore easily. I'm not depressed as I was when I was younger on and off. I'm more than manding maybe less considerate it consideration is appointment frankly. I don't take other people's pain as deeply as I took it all my own as deeply as I took a 10 years ago and and certainly before that. It's like okay, it's tough pull up your socks dick, you know and get on with it and get on with it fast. Something is going to happen one of these days and I'll be out of it. I want to use this time as powerful as I can. And if I look at the work, I do the new work I do and I don't feel if I feel that it's fading that is faded. It's an invitation to bypass work out tearing up and I will have taken my last photograph. The many things I can do with my time. I don't feel pressed to work as a photographer if I don't like the results, I think there's no way that's why I stopped working. So intensely for the New Yorker. Because I was really serving the magazines and knees and not not having didn't have enough time to challenge myself and see if what it means post Chernobyl. You know, this is the wind supposed to know Chad Noble world. as an artist there's no way of Ignoring that fact or doing preacher Noble work and I don't know what that means. But I said it but I don't know what I mean in terms of what I do. Next year's ago Avedon made the following remark that I discovered in a profile in the publication current biography. I asked him to read it and respond. I can see myself as a very old man and a terrific wheelchair only I won't be photographing the tree outside my window and then I'll be photographing other old people and the best part of that quote. Is not what I'll be photographing but that I will be photographing. I mean, I don't see myself. If I'm in a wheelchair, I don't see my top of the old people's home anymore. I see myself photographing somewhere. And maybe quite frankly. As I get older, it seems to me more important that I try to do something. Go back to one of one of the strongest person I use which is addressing The Human Condition. I don't mean the human condition in an abstract philosophical way. I mean it in terms of human needs. What what problems are. I came from a generation of people who believed that we can solve problems. It doesn't seem to be a case of the world. But but I was like a knee-jerk response for me. I'll go on. photographing what I think matters cuz that's who I am. The one thing I believe in is that you work everyday if you're lucky enough to have a calling if you're lucky enough to have something you want to do. You do it every day of your life there on a weekend and there are no right there on nope is nothing in the end everything phase. So it'll go up and go and have their lives. Marriages love sex everything diminishes work does not work when you're done you have work. It's there you did it. It's right in front of you can look at it. I don't mean it makes you feel good. That's a Sara Lee, but that's the one thing that doesn't turn on you anything you did well. In the end is who you are or who you were. so that's the bottom line for me. On that day 25 years ago in Minneapolis when I sit on the grass in the park recording my first conversation with Richard Avedon prompted by the unfamiliarity and vulnerability of someone recording his words. He said to me now if this interview fails, you can say dick, please let's do it again. It may be a number of years before we can actually get together. But of course, we will the head original interview certainly wasn't a failure yet. He has kept his word maybe in seven or eight years when Richard Avedon is a t kill invite me back for another conversation. You've been listening to a portrayed and sound of the portrait artist himself Richard Avedon original music for this program was composed by Jim Latham and performed by Trey Henry and Smith and Robin Swenson my competent and sensitive associate producer was Eileen Sagal off and I'm Connie Goldman Richard Avedon a sound portrait was produced in the studios of kusc FM Los Angeles with the engineering expertise of Ted Ancona. Bob Carlson at kcrw-fm Santa Monica also contributed technical assistance. My thanks to Bill Baughman Richard Avedon personal assistant and to Kathy twists at Public Radio International who coordinated this broadcast. This program was made possible by funds provided by Eastman Kodak company's professional and printing Imaging. For information on obtaining a cassette copy of Richard Avedon a sound portrait. Call one 800-327-6986 that number again one 800-327-6986 PRI Public Radio International


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