Richard Avedon - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 2, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
    Private Collection

  • Literature

    Avedon & Baldwin, Nothing Personal, n.p.
    Random House, Avedon: The Sixties, p. 125
    Random House, Evidence, 1944-1994: Richard Avedon, p. 146
    Random House, Avedon: An Autobiography, pl. 83
    for all, a variant crop

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the 1940s and 1950s, Richard Avedon established himself as the preeminent fashion photographer at the helm of Harper’s Bazaar. Injecting movement, vitality and fun into the genre, his photographs of Suzy Parker, Sunny Hartnett, Dorian Leigh and Dovima redefined the look of the era and thrust Avedon into the national spotlight. But in the following decades marked by political activism and social change, Avedon increasingly turned his attention and his lens to the political arena. With his finger on the pulse of the debate, his portraits from the 1960s and 1970s capture subjects at the center of the social discourse, from George Wallace and Malcolm X to White House staff (lot 180) and anti-war activists. The present photograph of William Casby, a former slave from Algiers, Louisiana was taken in March 1963, just 3 months prior to President Kennedy’s historic speech that put into motion the civil rights legislation of 1964. Whereas Avedon’s earlier portraits were known for their movement, here we see the contrary: his subject frozen in time. Accompanied by the typically descriptive title that Avedon was known for and charged by the political environment during which it was taken, Casby’s static pose documents the still limited social equality of African-Americans one century following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

  • 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.

    View More Works


William Casby, born in Slavery, Algiers, Louisiana, March 24

Gelatin silver print.
6 1/4 x 6 in. (15.9 x 15.2 cm)
Signed, titled, dated, numbered 8/11 in pencil and copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the verso.

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $45,000

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs
+ 1 212 940 1245


2 October 2012
New York