Behind the Lens

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Richard Avedon's portraiture usually stands alone, of course, even in ads, but in a new Levi's print campaign, from BBH/New York, his shots are competing for attention with butt imprints. Yes, actual imprints of the posteriors of "real" people. This may be a touch reminiscent of the recent adidas global campaign, in which rugby players became human paintbrushes, applying themselves all over canvas, but here we have derrieres only and the medium, cleverly, is the message: a waitress' imprint is made with coffee, for instance, while a jewelry designers' is made with gold leaf. We're so glad they didn't feature a proctologist. Anyway, BBH's Thomas Hayo insists that, jeans being such an individualistic and personal item, the butt imprints "function as the jeans equivalent of a fingerprint." And Avedon apparently had no problem playing what might be viewed as the supporting role to a pair of authentic buttocks. "Richard was always on board with this and he was very excited to combine his photography with a strong graphic device. While shooting, we always considered the specific imprint that would go with the shot, since the key was to make sure that the two elements worked together in perfect balance. The imprints were achieved by simply layering the materials on the actual jeans, and then having the person in them sit on a canvas. You can imagine it was quite a messy, yet very fun affair."

Client: Levi's Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty/N.Y. GCD: Thomas Hayo AD: Phil Bicker Photographer: Richard Avedon Art Buyers: Josette Lata, Travis Quinn

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