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Richard Avedon Art

American, 1923-2004

A while back, Richard Avedon had a confession to make. “I hate cameras,” said the man who revolutionized fashion and portrait photography. “If I could only work with my eyes alone!”

Yet Avedon’s photos seem to do just that — they remove the distance the camera lens creates to make you feel that you are right there beside his subjects.

Born in New York City in 1923, Avedon had a stern father, an artistic mother and a beautiful, but troubled, sister. At 18, he wanted to be a poet. And the slight, 5’7” dreamer didn’t lack confidence — or a sense of drama. “I know my drifting will not prove a loss / For mine is a rolling stone that has gathered moss,” he wrote in 1941.

A year later, Avedon joined the Merchant Marines, where he spent his World War II years shooting ID photos of new recruits. “I must have taken pictures of 100,000 faces before it occurred to me I was becoming a photographer,” he later recalled.

After demobilization in 1944, Avedon shot fashion pictures for the tony Manhattan department store Bonwit Teller and studied with Alexey Brodovitch, the legendary art director of Harper’s Bazaar. By 1945, his work was appearing in Junior Bazaar

“His first photographs for us were technically very bad,” Brodovitch later recalled. “But they were not snapshots. . . . Those first pictures of his had freshness and individuality, and they showed enthusiasm and a willingness to take chances.”

Who else was willing to take chances? Brodovitch and Carmel Snow, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, who soon sent the young talent to fashion’s sacred capital, Paris.

The postwar years were hard in Paris. When Avedon first arrived there, in 1946, it was with an explicit directive from Snow. “Dick was tasked with this idea that he was there to rebuild Paris,” explains Martin. In restoring the energy and excitement around Paris, Avedon imbued it with some of his own.

Avedon’s models jumped, twirled, leapt over puddles and they smiled. Like Avedon himself, they rarely stood still. While he wasn’t the first to use action in fashion photography (in the 1930s, Martin Munkacsi and Toni Frissell began creating fashion images of women engaged in sporty scenarios), Avedon was the first to pair such vitality with women wearing couture.

Character and spirit became la mode. Dovima’s graceful silhouette juxtaposed against the wrinkled heft of two shackled elephants. Dorian Leigh laughing and embracing a bicycle racer. Suzy Parker roller skating across the Place de la Concorde. Sunny Harnett and her cool gaze just daring the roulette table — and every man in the room — not to do her bidding. There was always a narrative in an Avedon mise en scène — whether the background was elaborately staged or stark, the model’s job had forever changed from posing, to acting.

Of course, Avedon did not limit himself to fashion photography. The little boy who once collected autographs grew up to create the most iconic portraits of the 20th century, many of these were included in an exhibition at Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, New York, in 2017.

A 1958 New Yorker profile noted that even though Avedon’s portraits immortalized cultural elites such as Truman Capote, Elsa Maxwell and Charles Laughton, the qualities that most interested the photographer were “advanced age, physical debility, ugliness, or the pathos underlying the surface insouciance.” Yet “none of Avedon’s subjects seem to resent this kind of treatment . . . being selected to sit for one of his Harper’s Bazaar portraits ranks as an accolade.”

Over the next 40-plus years of his career, his iconic portraiture never lost its force; although at times, his unvarnished truth felt cruel. 

But Avedon was a creator, not an observer, and he made no apologies for this. The sitter and the photographer “have separate ambitions for the image,” he wrote in 1985. “His need to plead his case probably goes as deep as my need to plead mine, but the control is with me.”

Find original Richard Avedon photography on 1stDibs.

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Artist: Richard Avedon
Who Has a Better Right to Oppose the War (vintage Vietnam protest poster)
By Richard Avedon
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Richard Avedon, "Who Has a Better Right to Oppose the War?," Vintage original protest poster, 1969 A famous 1969 Richard Avedon illustrated poster against the Vietnam War. Avedon's ...
Category

1960s Contemporary Richard Avedon Art

Materials

Lithograph

RICHARD AVEDON - CENTER FOR CREATIVE IMAGING
By Richard Avedon
Located in Portland, ME
Avedon, Richard. RICHARD AVEDON - CENTER FOR CREATIVE IMAGING. Poster, 1991. Signed in ink by Avedon. Captioned " Gordon Stevenson, drifter Interstate 90 Butte Montana 8/25/79." 22 1...
Category

1990s Richard Avedon Art

Materials

Offset

Richard Avedon Who Has a Better Right to Oppose the War (Vietnam protest poster)
By Richard Avedon
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Richard Avedon, "Who Has a Better Right to Oppose the War?," Vintage original protest poster, 1969 A famous 1969 Richard Avedon illustrated poster against the Vietnam War. Avedon's ...
Category

1960s Pop Art Richard Avedon Art

Materials

Lithograph, Offset

Who Has a Better Right to Oppose the War (vintage Vietnam protest poster)
By Richard Avedon
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Richard Avedon, "Who Has a Better Right to Oppose the War?," Vintage original protest poster, 1969 A famous 1969 Richard Avedon illustrated poster against the Vietnam War. Avedon's ...
Category

1960s Pop Art Richard Avedon Art

Materials

Lithograph

1993 Richard Avedon 'An Autobiography' Book
By Richard Avedon
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Paper Size: 14.25 x 11.5 inches ( 36.195 x 29.21 cm ) Image Size: 14.25 x 11.5 inches ( 36.195 x 29.21 cm ) Framed: NoCondition: A-: Near Mint, very light signs of handling Addition...
Category

1990s Richard Avedon Art

Materials

Offset

Beatles Poster (set of 4)
By Richard Avedon
Located in Washington , DC, DC
In addition to working within the world of fashion, Richard Avedon lent his photographic talents to civil rights and rock posters. In 1967, Avedon shot four psychedelic portraits of ...
Category

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Materials

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Twiggy, Hair by Ara Gallant, Paris Studio, January, 1968
By Richard Avedon
Located in New York, NY
Signed by the photographer
Category

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Materials

Silver Gelatin

Elise Daniels with Street Performers, Suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, Augu
By Richard Avedon
Located in London, GB
Richard Avedon Elise Daniels with Street Performers, Suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, August 1948 Signed, numbered and stamped with title, date and stamped with copyright ink st...
Category

Late 20th Century Richard Avedon Art

Materials

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Richard Avedon art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Richard Avedon art for sale. If you are looking for art to add a pop of color to a neutral corner of your living room or bedroom, you can find work that includes elements of blue and other colors. You can also browse by medium to find art by Richard Avedon in offset print, silver gelatin print, lithograph, and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th Century and is mostly associated with the Pop Art style. Not every interior allows for large Richard Avedon art, so small editions measuring 18 inches across are available. Customers interested in this artist might also find the work of Amy Touchette, James Whitlow Delano and Danny Clinch. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at US$520 and tops out at US$15,000, while the average work can sell for US$2,200.

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