during World War II Richard Avedon It was mobilized by the US Navy. With his knowledge of photography, he was assigned to the studio where profile pictures of marine profiles were made in Sheeps Bay, Brooklin. He has been fond of taking pictures ever since his father gave him a Rolleiflex with which he made a portrait of the exiled Russian musician. Sergey Rachmaninoff, a neighbor and friend of his grandparents who managed to publish. After the war it was clear to him that he would devote himself to photography. One of the great genres to which he devoted his activity was painting. The other was fashion photography. May 15 marks the centennial of his birth in New York City in 1923.
The son of a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, in his portraits, always with a white background to enhance the expression and energy of the faces and body language of the characters, Avedon also attempted to capture the psychology of his models by playing with a triptych: that of the figures, that of the photographer and that of the viewer.. To construct his world of images, Avedon acknowledged the existential influences of Camus, Becket’s theatre, and Antonioni’s cinema. At the end of the 1960s, he opened a style of large-format murals (up to 10 meters long) of famous figures from North American culture such as Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg or the Chicago Seven. These murals were donated in 2002 to Metropolitan New York. Rolling Stone magazine released The Family series, with portraits of characters from the social elite. Bertrand Russell, Beckett, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot, Francis Bacon, Burgess, Charles Chaplin, Sophia Loren, Dustin Hoffman in bed with Anne Bancroft while filming graduation… are some of the most famous. One of the most controversial was Dick Hickok, one of his killers in cold blood Truman Capote with his father before his execution. Capote wrote the scripts for his picture book comments. He has also photographed the Beatles for Look magazine and has done album covers for Johnny Winter and Simon and Garfunkel.
After extensive work in the genre of pictures, he reflected in his works Performance and Los retratos del poder, He simultaneously began to devote himself to fashion photography after a trip to Paris, where he was introduced to French haute couture. With his series Dovima and Elephants, one of his most popular pictures, he became famous in this field. Vogue magazine then hired him for $1 million a year, an unprecedented figure in the 1960s.
The fashion world welcomed Richard Avedon’s images, full of freshness and naturalness. He took the models out of the studio and placed them in exotic and sensual contexts, on the streets of big cities and in amazing places like circuses and airports, creating an extraordinary show that has served as a reference for several generations of photographers. He also made the models act naturally, away from the chorus poses. It made them the new stars, and the names of Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Lauren Hutton, Veruschka or Nastassja Kinski became as popular as movie actresses and pop singers. In Gianni Versace for Richard Avedon, from 1988, he pays tribute to the designer whose work he trusted most. On November 6, 1995, The New Yorker published what would be its last report dedicated to the world of fashion, in memory of the late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort, in the form of an anecdote interpreted by German model Nadja Ormann in the company of a skeleton that served as a mannequin. Endorsed by illustrator Don Arbus (daughter of Diane Arbus), the atmosphere of terror and doom he brought to the series was intended to reaffirm his critique of consumer society. In 2009, the International Center of Photography in New York organized the exhibition Avedon Fashion 1944-2000, which brought together a significant part of his work in this genre.
One of the lesser-known aspects of Avedon is his social photography, such as those collected in a series in the American West, 752 photographs taken between 1979 and 1984 in 17 states of the union commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth (Texas), black and white photographs of the most disadvantaged: miners, unemployed off work, homeless, farm workers, waitresses, thieves, inmates, psychopaths, employees of fairground attractions and mldr; The inhabitants of the West that is no longer the Promised Land. Their faces reflect the struggle for survival of the Miserables of the Earth. Each photo is accompanied by the sitter’s name, occupation, location, age and date. In 1989 he returned to the genre with Report on German Reunification, in which he reflected a panorama of fear and confusion that contrasted with the joy shown by other photojournalists.
Avedon was an artist committed to the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War. (His Mission Council photo is one of the best), as he was arrested several times after participating in demonstrations which he regularly photographed.
He died in 2004 in a hospital in San Antonio (Texas) at the age of 81, the victim of a stroke, while working on the On Democracy series for The New Yorker magazine.
His books also include nothing personal (1964), based on an idea by writer James Baldwin, Century newspaper (1970) and the biography (1993). His assistant Gideon Lewin recently posted Avedon behind the scenes (1964-1980) with images that reflect the moments and methods of the artist’s work. His photographs have been exhibited in museums around the world. One of his assistants, Norma Stephens, runs the Richard Avedon Foundation.