Saturday, May 16, 2009

Through The Eyes of Richard Avedon

This past week a retrospective of iconic photographer Richard Avedon was launched at the International Center of Photography. I think I probably first became aware of Avedon when I was younger and watched Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. The movie is loosely based on Avedon's work and unique techniques and he even provided some photos for the movie, including this memorable image below, showing just Audrey's eyes, nose and mouth. Hepburn was definitely one of Avedon's main muses, even perhaps his ultimate muse, as he once said:
"I am, and forever will be, devastated by the gift of Audrey Hepburn before my camera. I cannot lift her to greater heights. She is already there. I can only record. I cannot interpret her. There is no going further than who she is. She has achieved in herself her ultimate portrait."

Avedon started working in fashion in 1944 as a chief photographer for Harper's Bazaar. Here he became known for portraying how women really felt through his photos whether it was insecure or happy. His images of laughing women became his most popular. One thing I just discovered about him that made me love him even more, was that he used to fight with the magazine to show women of different races like China Machado and he threatened to leave in the 60's unless they used his photo of African-American model Donyale Luna.
Avedon ended up leaving Harper's Bazaar in 1966 to work for Vogue until Anna Wintour's arrival in 1988. Apparently she asked him to audition for him and did not like what she saw so Avedon left. However he left Vogue with so many incredible images where he was able to capture the spirit of that time so well, including stunning images of iconic models Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, and Penelope Tree.
In 1992 he became the first staff photographer for The New Yorker. They called it 'Avedon's return to fashion' and his first images shown were a color portfolio of a model with a skeleton, which could be seen as a stand-in for Avedon in some sense. After that he mainly photographed a lot of avante-garde couture fashions from designers like Yamamoto and Gaultier, mostly in black and white.
I just love Avedon's images and I think in a lot of he ways he changed the way people viewed fashion. Instead of portraying prim and proper ladies he showed women in their reality illuminating how they were really feeling. He pushed the envelope encouraging his models to emote and move around, urging them to be more than just motionless clothes hangers. He was able to truly capture the energy and emotions of the world around him and yet was so ahead of his time with his techniques and appreciation of all things beautiful. The New York Times covered this new exhibit very well and made a brief but very informative video on the photographer you can watch HERE. The retrospective will be displayed in New York until September 6(which means I get to see it!).

(Pictures via


  1. Amazing photos!

    Thanks Ur lovely comment, darling! Check this out if U have a mood!


  2. Hello's...this is one seriously cool collections of pic's, and major hair styling inspiration too.
    I really want to change my hair.
    PeAce & BoWs...
    prettyneOns x
    PS...Thank you my dear for your lovely comment ;)

  3. Awesome photographs. I love Avedon. He actually did a series of portraits of my first boyfriend's mother, when she was playing Alice in Wonderland, and I think some of them are in his latest book of portraits!