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Richard Avedon Furniture

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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Creator: Richard Avedon
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By Richard Avedon
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Richard Avedon furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Richard Avedon furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of paper and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Richard Avedon furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Richard Avedon were created in the modern style in united kingdom during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by David Hockney, Joe Tilson, and Christie's. Prices for Richard Avedon furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $495 and can go as high as $19,995, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $1,083.

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