Wild horses couldn’t keep Anouk Krantz away. The award-winning photographer, born and raised in the South of France, rode horses from the time she was eight years old. In the mid-1990s she moved to the United States. Then, about 10 years ago, she stumbled upon her first rodeo in Kansas and became intrigued by the lore and life of the Great Plains.
“West: The American Cowboy” explores, in black and white, the enduring iconic symbol of our country’s pioneering spirit. She also focused her lens on the wide-open spaces in a largely overlooked part of the world.
“Color photography captures nuances that can be distracting and make it possible to ascertain within a decade or so when a picture was shot,” Krantz explains. “Black and white removes the natural inclination to identify a sense of time and the state of the world. The context disappears, and the focus moves to the integral components of the photo itself and the universal themes, emotions and human conditions that endure, whether it was shot in 1900 or 2018.
“To see these cowboys in their own element is to understand the respect they have for their traditions and for one another, and to realize that there is so much more substance to their lives than the glamorized icon projected around the world,” the author notes. She took her camera to mostly small-town rodeos in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. “Many cowboys on the ranch compete at rodeos on the weekend. Their skills are put to the test. It is also extra cash, but most leave with nothing. It is truly a passion,” she notes, adding, “Long admired for strength, loyalty, a relentless work ethic and humble values, the American cowboy is alive and well and has never stood in such stark contrast to the rapidly changing nation that surrounds him.”
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