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Richard Avedon

American  •  1923-2004


From the inception of Richard Avedon's career, first at Harper's Bazaar and later at Vogue, Avedon challenged the norms for editorial photography. His fashion work gained recognition for its seemingly effortless and bursting energy, while his portraits were celebrated for their succinct eloquence. "I am always stimulated by people," Avedon has said, "almost never by ideas." 

Indeed, as seen in his portraits — whether of famed movie stars or everyday people — the challenge for Avedon was conveying the essence of his subjects. His iconic images were usually taken on an 8 x 10 inch camera in his studio with a plain white background and strobe lighting, creating his signature minimalist style. Avedon viewed the making and production of photographs as a performance similar to literature and drama, creating portraits that are simultaneously intensely clear, yet deeply mysterious.


  • Avedon's major museum retrospectives include exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1978 and 2002) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994). He is also included in both museums' permanent collections, as well as numerous others' including the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

  • Avedon's series In the American West became a best-selling book and highly-lauded exhibition, featuring his renowned mural prints. More than 700 people were photographed as part of the project, and the resulting images were perceptive insights into the life of the working class.

"My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph."

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