Richard Avedon

avedon george harrison

Richard Avedon [av-i-don] (1923 – 2004) was an American photographer born in New York City to a Jewish-Russian family. 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, he 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. Notable among his fashion advertisement photograph series are the recurring assignments for Gianni Versace. He also photographed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring a fifteen year old Brooke Shields.

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 later the fall of the Berlin Wall. During this period, Avedon also created two famous sets of portraits of The Beatles. The first, taken in mid to late 1967, became one of the first major rock poster series, and consisted of five striking psychedelic portraits of the group — four heavily solarized individual color portraits.

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. Avedon would at times evoke reactions from his portrait subjects by guiding them into uncomfortable areas of discussion or asking them psychologically probing questions. Through these means he would produce images revealing aspects of his subject’s character and personality that were not typically captured by others.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.