Call for Entries - All About Photo Awards 2020

Richard Avedon

American Photographer | Born: 1923 - Died: 2004
Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was born and lived in New York City. His interest in photography began at an early age, and he joined the Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) camera club when he was twelve years old. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he co-edited the school's literary magazine, The Magpie, with James Baldwin. He was named Poet Laureate of New York City High Schools in 1941.

Avedon joined the armed forces in 1942 during World War II, serving as Photographer's Mate Second Class in the U.S. Merchant Marine. As he described it, "My job was to do identity photographs. I must have taken pictures of one hundred thousand faces before it occurred to me I was becoming a photographer."

After two years of service, he left the Merchant Marine to work as a professional photographer, initially creating fashion images and studying with art director Alexey Brodovitch at the Design Laboratory of the New School for Social Research.

At the age of twenty-two, Avedon began working as a freelance photographer, primarily for Harper's Bazaar. Initially denied the use of a studio by the magazine, he photographed models and fashions on the streets, in nightclubs, at the circus, on the beach and at other uncommon locations, employing the endless resourcefulness and inventiveness that became a hallmark of his art. Under Brodovitch's tutelage, he quickly became the lead photographer for Harper's Bazaar.

From the beginning of his career, Avedon made formal portraits for publication in Theatre Arts, Life, Look, and Harper's Bazaar magazines, among many others. He was fascinated by photography's capacity for suggesting the personality and evoking the life of his subjects. He registered poses, attitudes, hairstyles, clothing and accessories as vital, revelatory elements of an image. He had complete confidence in the two-dimensional nature of photography, the rules of which he bent to his stylistic and narrative purposes. As he wryly said, "My photographs don't go below the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues."

After guest-editing the April 1965 issue of Harper's Bazaar, Avedon quit the magazine after facing a storm of criticism over his collaboration with models of color. He joined Vogue, where he worked for more than twenty years. In 1992, Avedon became the first staff photographer at The New Yorker, where his portraiture helped redefine the aesthetic of the magazine. During this period, his fashion photography appeared almost exclusively in the French magazine Égoïste.

Throughout, Avedon ran a successful commercial studio, and is widely credited with erasing the line between "art" and "commercial" photography. His brand-defining work and long associations with Calvin Klein, Revlon, Versace, and dozens of other companies resulted in some of the best-known advertising campaigns in American history. These campaigns gave Avedon the freedom to pursue major projects in which he explored his cultural, political, and personal passions. He is known for his extended portraiture of the American Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war and a celebrated cycle of photographs of his father, Jacob Israel Avedon. In 1976, for Rolling Stone magazine, he produced "The Family," a collective portrait of the American power elite at the time of the country's bicentennial election. From 1979 to 1985, he worked extensively on a commission from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, ultimately producing the show and book In the American West.

Avedon's first museum retrospective was held at the Smithsonian Institution in 1962. Many major museum shows followed, including two at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1978 and 2002), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (1970), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (1985), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994). His first book of photographs, Observations, with an essay by Truman Capote, was published in 1959. He continued to publish books of his works throughout his life, including Nothing Personal in 1964 (with an essay by James Baldwin), Portraits 1947-1977 (1978, with an essay by Harold Rosenberg), An Autobiography (1993), Evidence 1944-1994 (1994, with essays by Jane Livingston and Adam Gopnik), and The Sixties (1999, with interviews by Doon Arbus).

After suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while on assignment for The New Yorker, Richard Avedon died in San Antonio, Texas on October 1, 2004. He established The Richard Avedon Foundation during his lifetime.

Source: The Richard Avedon Foundation

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Avedon: Something Personal
Author: Richard Avedon
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Year: 2017 - Pages: 720
Richard Avedon was arguably the world's most famous photographer-as artistically influential as he was commercially successful. Over six richly productive decades, he created landmark advertising campaigns, iconic fashion photographs (as the star photographer for Harper's Bazaar and then Vogue), groundbreaking books, and unforgettable portraits of everyone who was anyone. He also went on the road to find and photograph remarkable uncelebrated faces, with an eye toward constructing a grand composite picture of America.
Avedon dazzled even his most dazzling subjects. He possessed a mystique so unique it was itself a kind of genius-everyone fell under his spell. But the Richard Avedon the world saw was perhaps his greatest creation: he relentlessly curated his reputation and controlled his image, managing to remain, for all his exposure, among the most private of celebrities.
No one knew him better than did Norma Stevens, who for thirty years was his business partner and closest confidant. In Avedon: Something Personal-equal parts memoir, biography, and oral history, including an intimate portrait of the legendary Avedon studio-Stevens and co-author Steven M. L. Aronson masterfully trace Avedon's life from his birth to his death, in 2004, at the age of eighty-one, while at work in Texas for The New Yorker (whose first-ever staff photographer he had become in 1992).
The book contains startlingly candid reminiscences by Mike Nichols, Calvin Klein, Claude Picasso, Renata Adler, Brooke Shields, David Remnick, Naomi Campbell, Twyla Tharp, Jerry Hall, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bruce Weber, Cindy Crawford, Donatella Versace, Jann Wenner, and Isabella Rossellini, among dozens of others.
Avedon: Something Personal is the confiding, compelling full story of a man who for half a century was an enormous influence on both high and popular culture, on both fashion and art-to this day he remains the only artist to have had not one but two retrospectives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during his lifetime. Not unlike Richard Avedon's own defining portraits, the book delivers the person beneath the surface, with all his contradictions and complexities, and in all his touching humanity.
 
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.
 
Performance: Richard Avedon
Author: Richard Avedon
Publisher: Abrams
Year: 2008 - Pages: 304
The preeminent stars and artists of the performing arts from the second half of the 20th century offered their greatest gifts-and, sometimes, their inner lives-to Richard Avedon. More than 200 are portrayed in Performance, many in photographs that have been rarely or never seen before. Of course, the great stars light the way: Hepburn and Chaplin, Monroe and Garland, Brando and Sinatra. But here too are the actors and comedians, pop stars and divas, musicians and dancers, artists in all mediums with public lives that were essentially performances, who stand at the pinnacle of our cultural 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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