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Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon Biography

born New York City, NY (USA) 1923 died San Antonio, TX (USA) 2004

Born in New York in 1923, Richard Avedon dropped out of high school and joined the Merchant Marine's photographic section. Upon his return in 1944, he found a job as a photographer in a department store. Within two years he had been "found" by an art director at HARPER'S BAZAAR and was producing work for them as well as VOGUE, LOOK, and a number of other magazines. During the early years, Avedon made his living primarily through work in advertising. His real passion, however, was the portrait and its ability to express the essence of its subject.

Although Richard Avedon first earned his reputation as a fashion photographer, his greatest achievement has been his stunning reinvention of the genre of photographic portraiture. Featuring approximately 180 works, this exhibition will span the artist's entire career, from his earliest portraits in the late 1940s through his most recent work. At the core of the installation will be a powerful group of portraits of many of the key artistic, intellectual, and political figures from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, including several large murals, perhaps the grandest photographic portraits ever staged. Also featured will be boldly scaled photographs from the ambitious series "In the American West" and a poignant sequence of portraits of the artist's father taken shortly before his death. Avedon's portraits of artists and intellectuals of the last 20 years, including John Cheever, Roy Lichtenstein, and Harold Bloom, complete this artist's collection of individuals who have shaped our world.

Select Timeline

  • 1957 Visual consultant for the film Funny Face, Paramount Studios
  • 1958 Popular Photography magazine, One of the World's Ten Greatest Photographers.
  • 1962 Exhibition: "Richard Avedon," Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C., curated by Eugene Ostroff.
  • 1963 Photographed the Civil Rights Movement in the South.
  • 1966-1990 Staff photographer for Vogue
  • 1969 Photographed the Anti-War Movement across America, including the Chicago 7 during the Chicago Conspiracy Trial.
  • 1970 Exhibition: "Richard Avedon," portrait retrospective 1945-1970 at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
  • 1970 Photographed in Vietnam
  • 1974 Exhibition: "Jacob Israel Avedon," portraits of the photographer's father, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • 1975 Exhibition: "Portraits, 1969-1975," Marlborough Gallery, New York.
  • 1978 Exhibition: "Avedon: Photographs 1947-1977," fashion retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • 1980 Exhibition: "Avedon: 1946-1980," portraits, fashion, reportage, University Art Museum, Berkeley, California.
  • 1982 Art Director's Club, New York, The Hall of Fame.
  • 1985 American Society of Magazine Photographers, Photographer of the Year.
  • 1989 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 1992 First staff photographer for The New Yorker.
  • 1993 International Center of Photography Master of Photography Award.
  • 1994 Exhibition: "Richard Avedon Evidence 1944-1994," retrospective, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
  • 1995 American Masters Documentary, "Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light".
  • 1996 Mental Health Association of New York City, Humanitarian Award.
  • 1998 The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
  • 1999 Exhibition "Richard Avedon Early Portraits," Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.
  • 2000 Exhibition "About Faces," including Richard Avedon portraiture.
  • 2001 Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • 2002 Exhibition: "Richard Avedon Portraits," portrait retrospective, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • 2003 Royal Photographic Society, 150th Anniversary Medal.
  • 2004 Dies, 1 October, San Antonio, Texas, while on assignment for The New Yorker magazine.

Select Exhibitions

  • 1962 Smithsonian Institution - "Richard Avedon" retrospective
  • 1970 Minneapolis Institute of Arts - "Richard Avedon" portrait retrospective 1945-1970
  • 1974 Museum of Modern Art, New York - "Jacob Israel Avedon"
  • 1975 Marlborough Gallery, New York - "Portraits" portraits 1969-1975
  • 1977 Seibu Museum, Tokyo - "Richard Avedon" portraits
  • 1978 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - "Avedon: Photographs 1947-77" fashion retrospective
  • 1979 Dallas Museum of Fine Arts - "Avedon: Photographs 1947-77" fashion retrospective
  • 1980 University Art Museum, Berkeley, California - "Avedon: Retrospective 1946-1980" portraits, reportage, fashion retrospective
  • 1985 Amon Carter Museum Fort Worth, Texas - "In the American West" portraits 1979-1984
  • 1986 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - "In the American West"
  • 1987 High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia - "In the American West"
  • 1989 International Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland - "In the American West"
  • 1991 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - "Brandenburg Gate, East Berlin, New Year's Eve, December 31, 1989 - January 1, 1990"
  • 1994-1995 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York - Retrospective "Richard Avedon Evidence 1944-1994"
  • 1999-2000 Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California - "Early Portraits"
  • 2001 Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany - "In the American West"
  • 2002 Fundacion la Caixa, Barcelona, Spain - "In the American West"

Select Artwork

  • Dovima with Elephants,1955
  • Marilyn Monroe, actress, 1957
  • Dwight David Eisenhower, President of the United States, 1964
  • The Beatles, 1967
  • Sly Stone (cover of Fresh Album), 1973
  • Ronald Fischer, beekeeper, 1981
  • Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, 1981


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 Richard Avedon   Richard Avedon, Andy Warhol Photograph, Art Ad - Rare Richard Avedon, Andy Warhol Photograph, Art Ad - Rare  $12.99 
 Richard Avedon   Richard Avedon, Land Scope, 1989 Nyc Art Ad Richard Avedon, Land Scope, 1989 Nyc Art Ad  $12.99 
 Richard Avedon   Richard Avedon, Pace Gallery, Nyc Art Ad Richard Avedon, Pace Gallery, Nyc Art Ad  $12.99 
 Richard Avedon   Richard Avedon, Portraits, The Met, Nyc Art Ad Richard Avedon, Portraits, The Met, Nyc Art Ad  $12.99 
 Richard Avedon   Richard Avedon, The Family, 1976, Democracy 2004 Art Ad Richard Avedon, The Family, 1976, Democracy 2004 Art Ad  $12.99 
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