“Anything is an art if you do it at the level of an art.”
Born in New York in 1923 Richard Avedon is widely regarded as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. With his dynamic approach to photography he revolutionised the worlds of fashion and fine art portraiture.
His iconic portraits of celebrities, spanned more than half of the 20th century, and included Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, Tupac Shakur and The Beatles. “My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph”, he once observed.
Avedon got his start working for magazines, landing a job at Vogue in 1964, first as a staff photographer under famed editor Diana Vreeland, and then as its head photographer from 1973 – 1988. Outside of his fashion work, Avedon is also known for his series capturing American Western figures such as drifters, miners, cowboys, and others living on the edges of society. A series of these images was later published as the book In the ‘In The American West’ (1985), which is widely considered a seminal work in the history of photography.
During his lifetime, Avedon was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (1989), the International Center of Photography’s Master of Photography Award (1993) and the Royal Photographic Society’s 150th Anniversary Medal (2003). His photographs are held in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Washington DC, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Banner image credit: Richard Lee / The New York Post Archive