I am currently on Holiday, in France, visiting my Grandmother and yesterday I had a marvellous time galloping around 'La Foret de Fontainebleau' with my cousins. Tomorrow, Paris!
"His fashion and portrait photographs helped define America's image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century."
Born: May 15th 1923, New York
Died: October 1st 2004, Texas
- Avedon was born in New York City to a Jewish Russian family.
- Avedon did not conform to the standard technique of taking fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action.
- In 1966, Avedon left Harper's Bazaar to work as a photographer for Vogue magazine. He proceeded to become the lead photographer of Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1973 until Anna Wintour became editor in chief in late 1988.
- Notable among his fashion advertisement photograph series are the recurring assignments for Gianni Versace, starting from the spring/summer campaign 1980. He also photographed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring a fifteen year old Brooke Shields, as well as directing her in the television commercials.
"When Dick walks into the room, a lot of people are intimidated. But when he works, he's so acutely creative, so sensitive. And he doesn't like it if anyone else is around or speaking. There is a mutual vulnerability, and a moment of fusion when he clicks the shutter. You either get it or you don't". 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 and a black-and-white group portrait taken with a Rolleiflex camera. The next year he photographed the much more restrained portraits.
- Avedon was always interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. As his reputation as a photographer became widely known, he brought in many famous faces to his studio and photographed them with a large-format 8x10 view camera. 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.
- When first published and exhibited, In the American West was criticized for showing what some considered to be a disparaging view of America. Avedon was also lauded for treating his subjects with the attention and dignity usually reserved for the politically powerful and celebrities.
- Avedon became the first staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992. He has won many awards for his photography, including the International Center of Photography Master of Photography Award in 1993, the Prix Nadar in 1994 for his photobook Evidence, and the Royal Photographic Society 150th Anniversary Medal in 2003. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.
- Avedon had numerous museum exhibitions around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Richard & Audrey