Richard Avedon

Born in the roaring twenties, 1923, Richard Avedon would become one of the most recognized photographers of the times.  Like many, his family was involved in New York's fashion business.   His youth spent assisting his father at Avedon's Fifth Avenue (a clothing store) developed a sensibility in Richard that would guide his professional life.   By 12, he had joined the Young Men's Hebrew Association Camera Club.  During high school, he developed a keen interest in poetry.  Although accepted to Columbia University, the winds of war covered a nation and Avedon chose to leave Columbia and ultimately join the Merchant Marines.  His duty from 1942 to 1944 was primarily to create photo identifications of each sailor.


By 1945, Avedon became a staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar.   His foray into direct fashion photography occurred when assigned to cover the Paris fashion shows.   Richard took the opportunity to combine his first few years experience of shooting the everyday happenings of New York City life with runway models staged throughout the Parisian streets and cafes.   His signature black and white photographs of Paris visually defined the period.   In 1955, Avedon set a circus for his backdrop.  The photographer's outcome would be a hallmark for fashion photography: Dovima with Elephants.   Dressed in Dior, Avedon framed Dovima's beauty with the trunks and mass of two huge circus elephants.


Avedon subsequently became a goto photographer.  He sat with civil rights leaders, presidents, celebrities and pursued his personal interests on film.   In 1965, Vogue became his public home for his work.  His efforts in photography culminated with personal exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, select galleries and the MET.   In the 70's he focused a collection of portraits of his dying father.  Throughout, Avedon advocated the fine art elements of photography.   His world tour through museums solidified his legacy.   He would subsequently join The New Yorker in 1992 as the first staff photographer.  Avedon's objective was to extend the role of the photograph.  He wanted to present more than just celebrity and fame - he wanted to focus on those impacting and leading humanity.   Just before his death in 2004, the Metropolitan Museum of Art featured his Portraits and studies from "In The American West."   The large size prints transformed patrons and told a profound story of those characters he had captured and who had shared his presence.


Richard Avedon achievements included:

1989 - Lifetime Achievement Award, Council of Fashion Designers of America
1993 - Master of Photography Award, International Center of Photography
1994 - Prix Nadar
2003 - 150th Anniversary Medal, The Royal Photographic Society


Source: The Richard Avedon Foundation;

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