Richard Avedon - Photographs New York Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Literature

    Fraenkel Gallery, Richard Avedon: Made in France, n.p.; Shanahan, Evidence 1944-1994: Richard Avedon, pp. 38, 48, 50-51, 129 & 135

  • Catalogue Essay

    Titles include: Dorian Leigh, evening dress by Piguet, Helena Rubenstein apartment, Ile St. Louis, Paris, 1949; Renée, “The Look of Dior,” Place de la Concorde, Paris, 1947; Marlene Dietrich, turban by Dior, The Ritz, Paris, 1955; Sunny Harnett, evening dress by Grés, Casino, Le Touquet, Paris, 1954; Suzy Parker wearing Lanvin-Castillo at Café des Beaux-Arts, 1956; Homage to Munkacsi, Carmen, coat by Cardin, Place François-Premier, Paris, 1957; Dorian Leigh, coat by Dior, Paris, 1949; Elise Daniels, hat by Paulette, Pré-Catalan, Paris, 1948; Dorian Leigh, Schiaparelli rhinestones, Pré-Catalan, Paris, 1949; Elise Daniels with street performers, suit by Balenciaga, Paris, 1948; Suzy Parker with Robin Tattersall, evening dress by Griffe, Moulin Rouge, 1957.
    Richard Avedon’s fashion work for Harper’s Bazaar during the 1940s and 1950s still stands as a rich testament to mid-20th century glamour and style. Strongly influenced by the magazine’s legendary art director Alexey Brodovitch, by 1957 Avedon himself had come to personify the ideal fashion photographer and soared as the model for, and creative consultant to, Stanley Donen’s film Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn—with none other than Fred Astaire playing lensmen Dick Avery—star photographer for Quality magazine.
    In 1978, when this portfolio was introduced, the world it conjured had long vanished as long hair, denim and other essentials of 70s “bohemian chic” had replaced the ultra feminine in fashion for the feminist. As a record though, it lives on in several levels. Most of the great models of the era: Suzy Parker and her sister Dorian Leigh, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Reneé, Elise Daniels and Sunny Harnett model the latest mode by the era’s pre-eminent Paris couture designers such as Balenciaga, Griffe, Cardin, Lanvin Castillo, Dior, and Grés. For the extra star power we have a turbaned Marlene Dietrich lighting a cigarette—that essential accessory of mid-century élan.
    Avedon benefited early on from the increasing ease of transatlantic travel—what was once six days by ocean liner to get to Paris was now a matter of hours by airplane. He forged a new direction for “location” photography as many of the works in this portfolio were “staged” at real places in Paris: the Café des Beaux-Arts on the rue Bonaparte, the Moulin Rouge, the place de la Concorde and the Casino at LeTouquet—all helping to reaffirm the return of Parisian glamour after the war. It is no wonder why Hollywood went to Paris so much during this era with, in addition to Funny Face, films set there such as Gigi, An American in Paris and Sabrina. Even Lucille Ball was seduced, staging one of her most memorable “I Love Lucy” episodes in the world of Parisian Haute Couture.
    Avedon/Paris 1947-1957 is a venerable time capsule of the photographer’s fashion work when he “first got the art of it,” documenting he claimed “the last time it wasn’t commercially driven.” Two iconic images in the portfolio attest to just how much of “the art” Avedon had processed during his first 10 years as a major fashion photographer. Homage to Munkacsi showing Carmen jumping off the corner at Place François-Premier with umbrella in hand is an elegant salute to 1930s action photography (although Avedon had faster film than Munkacsi had to work with). The second, of Elisa Daniels with street performers, is a clear homage to Henri Cartier-Bresson. The others—pure Avedon.
    While Avedon moved on to major bodies of portraiture and documentary photography in the ensuing decades, this valuable portfolio underscores what the NewYork Times headline boldly stated on its front page upon Avedon’s death. He was simply “the eye of fashion.”

  • Artist Biography

    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.

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New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978. Eleven gelatin silver prints.
Each approximately 14 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. (35.9 x 44.8 cm) or the reverse.
Each signed, numbered 10/75 in pencil, copyright credit reproduction limitation, edition, title and date stamps on the verso. Colophon signed and numbered 10/75 in pencil. Title page. Accompanied by a catalogue with introduction by Rosamond Bernier. Contained in a linen clamshell case.

$100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $122,500


1 April 2009, 10am & 2pm
New York