Avedon at SFMOMA

This post was a long time coming, but well worth it. As many of you know, there are currently three exhibitions of Richard Avedon’s work on both coasts.* The exhibit at the SFMOMA, Richard Avedon: Photographs, 1946-2004, however, is the only one of the three to offer a complete retrospective of his work and originated in Denmark in 2007. This is an important distinction for the purposes of WT as it looks at his entire career – thereby placing his fashion photography within the context of his other commercial and non-commercial work over a 50 year period.

Veruschka, dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967

Veruschka, dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967

The exhibit includes a wide cast of characters from throughout Avedons career. His subjects are models (Dovima, Veruschka, Dorian Leigh), artists and writers (Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Samuel Beckett), politicians (Cesar Chavez, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagon), celebrities (Marilyn Monroe, Janice Joplin, Bjork) and thundering hords of individuals. The show was broken into several rooms, each representing both a different themeatic focus of the artist, and somewhat chronologically. Upon entering the exhibition, fashion photography is first, followed by celebrity portraits, then key political figures, then artists, followed by his series In the American West (1980–85), and ending with the iconic images he took at the end of his career.The exhibit not only showcases the talent of the photographer, but the significant historical points that occurred during his lifetime. If you were important, Avedon took your picture. The images were presented in both large format photographs (some larger than life-size) as well as in magazines (including many recognizable and memorable photo spreads).

I highly recommend that you go and see this exhibit for yourself (it’s on view through November 29)- the size and presence of these images really have a significant impact on your experience of them, and of the photographers intention. Many have an almost three-dimensional quality. Marilyn Monroe is hauntingly sad; Charlie Chaplin is devilish and fuzzy; and some figures resemble ghosts. The fashion photography is, of course, brilliant. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I tend to enjoy the images that show movement. Enjoy these photographs from the exhibition. Feel free to comment below on your favorites.

For more information:

Here is a clip, including interviews with Avedon on his Photography:


A good number of books on Avedon have been published recently, including:

Woman in the Mirror: 1945-2004by Richard Avedon and Anne Hollander (yes, the Anne Hollander)

Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946-2004 by Michael Holm, Richard Avedon, Poul Erik Tojner, and Helle Crenzien

Performance: Richard Avedon by John Lahr, Andre Gregory, Mike Nichols, and Twyla Tharp

Avedon Fashion 1944-2000by Carol Squiers, Vincent Aletti, Philippe Garner, and Willis Hartshorn

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power by Renata Adler, Frank Goodyear, Paul Roth, and Richard Avedon

Even more information can be found at the Richard Avedon Foundation

*”Avedon Fashion, 1944-2000″, The International Center for Photography in New York on view through September 20th; “Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power” at San Diego Museum of Art runs through Sept. 6.

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