Exercise · In the American West – Critique by Bolton

‘In the American West’ – Reflective commentary

The main points of the article by Bolton focuses on a few areas that for me have been in a sense disconcerting to learn but at the same time revealing. The promotion of Avedon’s work I feel takes advantage of the subjects on the basis that honesty as to the purpose of the project was not fully disclosed beforehand to the people in the photos. The corporate interest and investment in his work, and Bolton’s informative review of the ‘closing gap’ between arts and entertainment/advertising has left me questioning to some extent the motives of the art world and especially the area of photography which I participate in.

There are several questions that have arisen for me reading this article.

  1. As art is increasingly seen as an element of the post-industrial advertising world, what value does art hold as a critical faculty for society?
  2. Can Avedon’s work be seen as documentary? In what sense is it documenting?

I feel that generally the outcome of Avedon’s work cannot really be seen as documentary in either of the senses that Stott refers to (1973). That is to say, neither is there sufficient information for it to be a human document or sufficient context for it to be a historical or factual representation of the events of Western America.


Stott, W. Documentary Expression in Thirties America (1973) Oxford University Press.

Published by Truevisionphotography

I'm a student photographer studying through the OCA a UK based arts university. I'm in the foundation year of my studies and enjoying it immensely. I'm also a yoga teacher and co-founder of Bodhiyoga a buddhism based yoga teacher training program that runs in the UK and Spain each year. As a photographer I'm interested in all forms of fine art. I find the arts really important in my life. I love nature and aim to be in the outdoors as much as I can. Generally I think that all the different strands of my life are flowing to towards self development in the greatest sense of the term. The arts, buddhist practice yoga and meditation are all tools to that end. I feel committed to communication the these values in the world both through the visual arts as well as teaching.

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