Gagosian Gallery New York pays tribute to the sensational work of Richard Avedon, the man who changed the outlook of fashion photography forever.
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Avedon began his career in 1942 in the U.S. Merchant Marine Photographic Department. Later, of course, came Harper’s Bazaar, and even later Vogue. From Italian streets, to the scenes of the Civil Rights Movement, Avedon was everywhere, documenting the strength and delicacy of a couture gown as honestly and as magically as the face of an oil field worker or miner. This was one of his greatest strengths: the ability to allow the truth of his sitter to shine through, whoever they were. Indeed, the line-up of names Avedon photographed is dizzying when viewed together. He painted a beautiful and respectful portrait of the middle to late twentieth century and beyond, and the characters who populated it.
Between 1969 and 1971, Avedon started four murals, up to thirty-five feet wide and encompassing up to five panels, in which his subjects were shown against a white background, his signature. The stunning exhibition Murals & Portraits at the Gagosian Gallery explores these works. Allen Ginsberg appears proudly with his family in one, and in an embrace with his partner Peter Orlovsky in another. These images were considered too unnerving for most publications at the time, in 1963. The cast of his work, as always, is incredibly diverse. Rose Mary Woods, secretary to President Richard Nixon, for example, makes an appearance alongside a portrait of Andy Warhol standing with the stars of The Factory. The show is an opportunity to rediscover Avedon’s work and appreciate his enduring influence as an image-maker, in a new light.
Murals & Portraits runs from May 4th until July 6th at the Gagosian, 522 West 21st Street New York, NY
Text: Michael Kowalinski
Images: © The Richard Avedon Foundation
From top: Andy Warhol and members of The Factory: Gerard Malanga, poet; Viva, actress; Paul Morrissey, director; Taylor Mead, actor; Brigid Polk, actress; Joe Dallesandro, actor; Andy Warhol, artist, New York, October 9, 1969. / Florynce Kennedy, civil rights lawyer, New York, August 1, 1969. / Rose Mary Woods, secretary to President Richard Nixon, Washington, D.C., August 10, 1975. / Allen Ginsberg’s family: Hannah (Honey) Litzky, aunt; Leo Litzky, uncle; Abe Ginsberg, uncle; Anna Ginsberg, aunt; Louis Ginsberg, father; Eugene Brooks, brother; Allen Ginsberg, poet; Anne Brooks, niece; Peter Brooks, nephew; Connie Brooks, sister-in-law; Lyle Brooks, nephew; Eugene Brooks; Neal Brooks, nephew; Edith Ginsberg, stepmother; Louis Ginsberg, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970. / Abbie Hoffman, Yippie, New York, September 11, 1968.