American photographer Richard Avedon was best known for his work in the style world as well as for his minimalist portraits. He worked first as a photographer for the Merchant Marines, shooting id photographs. Then he proceeded to trend, shooting for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, demanding that his models express emotion and movement, a deviation from your standard of motionless fashion photography.
Richard Avedon was born on May 15, 1923 in Nyc. His mom, Anna Avedon, came from a household of apparel makers, and his dad, Jacob Israel Avedon, possessed a clothing store called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. Inspired by his parents’ garments businesses, as a lad Avedon took a great fascination with vogue, particularly loving photographing the garments in his dad’s shop.
Avedon afterwards described one youth minute in particular as helping kindle his fascination with fashion photography: “One evening my dad and I were walking down Fifth Avenue taking a look at the store windows,” he recalled. “In front of the Plaza Hotel, I saw a bald guy using a camera modeling an extremely amazing girl against a tree. He lifted his head, fixed her dress slightly and took some pictures. Afterwards, I saw the image in Harper’s Bazaar.
Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in Nyc, where among his classmates and closest friends was the great writer James Baldwin. Along with his continuing fascination with fashion and photography, in high school Avedon also developed an affinity for poetry. After high school, Avedon registered at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry. Nevertheless, he dropped out after just one year to serve in the United States Merchant Marine during the Second World War. As a Photographer’s Mate Second Class, his primary responsibility was shooting identification portraits of sailors. Avedon served in the Merchant Marine for a couple of years, from 1942 to 1944.
After several years photographing daily life in Nyc, Avedon was delegated to cover the spring as well as autumn fashion groups in Paris. While renowned editor Carmel Snow covered the runway shows, Avedon’s job was to stage pictures of models wearing the newest trends out in the city itself. Through the late 1940s and early 1950s he created tasteful black and white photos showcasing the hottest trends in real-life settings including Paris’s scenic cafes, cabarets and streetcars.
Already established as among the very gifted young fashion photographers available, in 1955 Avedon made fashion and photography history when he staged a photo shoot in a circus. The iconic picture of the shoot, “Dovima with Elephants,” features the most well-known model of the time in a black Dior evening gown using a long white silk sash. The picture is still among the very strikingly original and iconic fashion pictures ever. “He requested me to do amazing things,” Dovima said of Avedon. “But I always knew I would be a part of an excellent photo.”
Along with his fashion photography, he was also recognized for his portraiture. During the 1960s, Avedon also expanded into more expressly political photography. In 1969, he shot a string of Vietnam War portraits that contained the Chicago Seven, American soldiers and Vietnamese napalm casualties.
He continued to push the limits of fashion photography with dreamlike, provocative and sometimes contentious images where nudity, violence and departure featured prominently. He also continued to shoot illuminating portraits of top ethnic and political figures, ranging from Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison to Hillary Clinton. Along with his work for Vogue, Avedon was also a driving force behind photography’s development as a valid art form through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. In 1959 he published a book of photos, Observations, featuring comments by Truman Capote, as well as in 1964 he printed Nothing Personal, another number of photos, with the essay by his old pal James Baldwin.
In 1974 Avedon’s photos of his terminally ill father were featured in the Museum of Modern Art, as well as another year a collection of his portraits was shown in the Marlborough Gallery. In 1977, a retrospective collection of his pictures, “Richard Avedon: Photographs 1947-1977,” was presented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art before starting an international tour of several of the planet ‘s most well-known museums. As truly one of the primary self consciously arty commercial photographers, Avedon played a significant role in explaining the artistic intent and possibilities of the genre. “The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it’s not a fact however an opinion,” he once said. “There’s not any such thing as inaccuracy in a photo. All pictures are accurate. Not one of them is the reality.”
In 1992, Avedon became the very first staff photographer in the annals of The New Yorker. “I have photographed just about everybody on the planet,” he said at that time. “But what I expect to do is picture individuals of achievement, not star, and help define the difference once more.” His last job for The New Yorker, which remained incomplete, was a portfolio entitled “Democracy” that contained portraits of political leaders like Karl Rove and John Kerry along with average citizens participated in political and social activism.
Among the most significant photographers of the 20th century, Richard Avedon enlarged the genre of photography along with his dreamlike and provocative fashion photography along with portraits that bared the spirits of a few of the main and opaque bodies on the planet. Avedon was such a prevalent ethnic power he inspired the classic 1957 film Funny Face, in which Fred Astaire’s character is founded on Avedon’s life. While much has been and is still written about Avedon, he consistently thought the story of his life was best told through his pictures. Avedon said, “Sometimes I believe all my photos are only pictures of me. My problem is… the human dilemma; just what I consider the human dilemma may just be my own.”