It'll be a while before I make grand comments on The Corcoran Gallery of Art's newest exhibition, Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power; I have 24 students writing essays on the exhibition and I'd like to do as much as possible to mitigate any of them borrowing my words (this has happened to me before).
This is by far one of the most powerful photo exhibitions I have encountered, and Paul Roth deserves big kudos for a job well done. Last year when he spoke to me about the Adams and Leibovitz exhibitions he mentioned the Avedon exhibition. I'll have to get on my iTunes and dig some of that up for a later post.
Unlike my perception of the Adams exhibition last fall - where I preferred the intimacy of his calendars (blasphemy!) over elbowing for room at the opening - the Avedon exhibition requires the gallery, the scale, and the grandeur to truly capitalize on the experience. That is to say, the companion book of the exhibition sold in the book shop for $60 is nice. But, looking at the book versus the exhibition is like listening to a tape of Chopin versus listening to it performed live at the Kennedy Center (somewhere out there an Adorno fan is smiling).