Leland Stanford, Junior, Museum/Cantor Arts Center
Leland Stanford Museum/Cantor Arts Center/Avedon In the American West
Last weekend I visited the Stanford Museum/Cantor Arts Center to see Richard Avedon's "In the American West" photographs. The exhibit was well worth the hour drive from Berkeley. Moreover, in addition to the stunning Avedon photographs, we enjoyed the museum's huge Rodin collection, the paintings of the Leland Stanford family, including Mrs. Stanford's regal jewelry collection and a unique bronze sculpture of a horse by Deborah Butterfield.
The life-size horse sculpture was first created from driftwood. Then it was dismantled and encased in molds which were used to mold bronze pieces matching the driftwood which were then welded together, using photographs, to match the original driftwood sculpture.
The museum allows unlimited photographs of the art in its permanent collection, but did not permit photos of the Avedon pictures. I'll try to find some on the Internet to give you an idea of what they were like.
They were very different from any of Avedon's previous work as a fashion and portrait photographer. These pictures were of drifters, waitresses, coal miners, cowboys, railroad workers of the kind whose toil paid for Mrs. Stanford's priceless jewels. The irony of the justaposition between Avedon's searing, bigger than life photos and the life of the Stanfords was powerful.