Richard Avedon

American Photographer | Born: 1923 - Died: 2004

Born in New York on 15 May 1923, Richard Avedon was in possession of a Kodak Box Brownie camera by the age of 12. Having studied philosophy at Columbia University in the late Thirties, Avedon went on to study photography under Alexey Brodovitch at the Design Laboratory of the New School of Social Research. Richard Avedon shot the Paris collections for almost 40 years, and was staff photographer for Vogue from 1966 until 1990. Richard Avedon became the first ever staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992, at the age of 69. From the start of his career, Richard Avedon's name became synonymous with fashion as well as portraiture. He photographed everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Parker and the Duchess of Windsor as well as a lot of "unknown" people. Known for bringing the fashion models of the day, including Suzy Parker and Sunny Harnett, to life, Richard Avedon injected a previously unseen vibrancy into the medium of fashion photography. Richard Avedon married twice and has a son. Perhaps the most poignant set of photographs Avedon ever produced were those of his dying father. He died in 2004 of a brain hemorrhage.

Source: Vogue


Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923–October 1, 2004) 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 to a Jewish family. 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. In 1944, he was discovered by Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for 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. He 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. 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. 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. 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.

Source: Keith de Lellis Gallery

Avedon Fashion 1944-2000
Author: Carol Squiers
Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Year: 2009 - Pages: 372
Avedon Fashion 1944-2000 encompasses seven decades of extraordinary images by Richard Avedon, the most influential fashion photographer of the 20th century. This comprehensive volume offers a definitive survey, from Avedon's groundbreaking early photographs for Harper's Bazaar through his constantly inventive contributions to Vogue, Egoiste, and The New Yorker. Each carefully selected image represents an artistic collaboration with significant models, stylists, and designers. Avedon Fashion accompanies the first major exhibition to survey this body of work, at the International Center of Photography in May 2009. With critical essays by Carol Squiers, curator at the ICP, and photography critic Vince Aletti, as well as an appreciation by photo-historian Philippe Garner, Avedon Fashion chronicles an astonishing record of photographic achievement.
 
In the American West
Author: Richard Avedon, Laura Wilson, John Rohrbach
Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Year: 2005 - Pages: 184
Avedon, who died in 2004, was the greatest American photographer of his generation. For In the American West, he traveled throughout five years, meeting and photographing the plain people of the West: ranch workers, roustabouts, bar girls, drifters, and gamblers. The resulting book includes 120 exquisitely printed black-and-white photographs, an essay by Avedon on his working methods and portrait philosophy, a journal of the project by Laura Wilson, and a new foreword by John Rohrbach. The reissuing of this legendary book, out of print for more than a decade, is a major event in the photography world.
 
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