Dovima and the Elephants by Richard Avedon—this challenging, discomforting photograph intrigued me as a young girl, its beauty and its cruelty both. Last week, I found it in a book on Avedon’s photography and it unnerved me all over again.
On the Phaidon photography website it says of Dovima and the Elephants—
(If you) look closer you'll see that the fundamental subject, as in all of Avedon's art, is old age and its stresses - as represented by the mournful and wrinkled elephants.
The dress that Dovima is wearing is elegant, yet your eye is still not detracted from the elephants. The dress acts as the focal point of the photo while also fading away to the background.
The chains around the elephants feet hint at an idea of a reduced life. Avedon was to return again and again to this idea.
Love, Susie x