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Richard Avedon

From Academic Kids


Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923October 1, 2004) was an American photographer. Avedon was able to take his early success in fashion photography and expand it into the realm of fine art.

Avedon was born in New York City. After briefly attending Columbia University, he started as a photographer for the Merchant Marines in 1942, taking identification pictures of the crewmen with his Rolleiflex camera which was given to him by his father as a going-away present. In 1944, he began working as an advertising photographer for a department store, but was quickly discovered by Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for the fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar. In 1946, Avedon had set up his own studio and began providing images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He soon became the chief photographer for Harper's Bazaar. Avedon did not conform to the standard technique of taking fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action.

In 1966, Avedon left Harper's Bazaar to work as a staff photographer for Vogue magazine. In addition to his continuing fashion work, Avedon began to branch out and photographed patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, protesters of the Vietnam War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

However, Avedon had always been interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. As his reputation as a photographer became widely known, he brought in many famous faces to his studio and photographed them with a large-format 8x10 view camera. His portraits are easily distinguished by their minimalist style, where the person is looking squarely in the camera, posed in front of a sheer white background. He is also distinguished by his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and traveling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th Century portrait photography, and by some as Avedon's magnum opus. This was a five-year project Avedon embarked on in the early 1980s, which took a closer look at the effects of the aging of the skin in such occupations as those listed above.

Avedon was married in 1944 to Dorcas Nowell, a model known professionally as Doe Avedon. After five years, they divorced and in 1951, he married Evelyn Franklin, but they also separated.

Hollywood presented a fictional account of his early career in the 1957 musical Funny Face, starring Fred Astaire as the fashion photographer "Dick Avery."

Avedon became the first-ever staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992. He has won many awards for his photography, including the International Center of Photography Master of Photography Award in 1993 and the Royal Photographic Society 150th Anniversary Medal in 2003.

On September 25, 2004, he suffered a brain hemorrhage in San Antonio, Texas while shooting an assignment for The New Yorker. He died in San Antonio on October 1. At the time of his death, Avedon was working on a new project entitled On Democracy. The project focuses on the run-up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election, and features portraits of the candidates, delegates to the national nominating conventions, and others. It is unknown at this time if the project will be completed, and if so, by whom.

Famous photographs

  • Dovima with Elephants,1955
  • Marilyn Monroe, actress, 1957
  • Dwight David Eisenhower, President of the United States, 1964
  • The Beatles, 1967
  • Ronald Fischer, beekeeper, 1981
  • Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, 1981

Books by Richard Avedon

  • Observations, 1959: A collaborative book with Truman Capote containing portraits of many famous people of the twentieth century, including Picasso, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Mae West.
  • Nothing Personal, 1964: A collaborative book with James Baldwin.
  • Alice in Wonderland, 1973
  • Portraits, 1976
  • Portraits 1947-1977, 1978
  • In the American West, 1985
  • An Autobiography, 1993: Contains 50 years of Avedon's photographs, 284 images ranging from mental patients to famous celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol, and even his own mother and father. Thpictures are not arranged chronologically. The order of the pictures is used to tell a life story.
  • Evidence, 1994: Over 600 images that encompass Avedon's fashion photographs, portraiture, journalistic shots, sketches, snapshots, and contact sheets. However, despite containing many images, the book focuses more on the essays and text about Avedon instead of being fully based on visuals.
  • The Sixties, 1999: Contains images of many famous figures such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Twiggy, and rock bands like Aerosmith in the nude.
  • Made in France, 2001: A retrospective of Avedon's fashion portraiture from the 1950s. The book is expensive due to the images being printed on tritone plates.
  • Richard Avedon Portraits' 2002: 50 black and white images of celebrities and subjects from his In The American West project. Its release coincided with an exhibition of the work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Cityffdg.

External links

es:Richard Avedon fr:Richard Avedon it:Richard Avedon lb:Richard Avedon pl:Richard Avedon fi:Richard Avedon sv:Richard Avedon

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