Richard Avedon

Avedon, Richard, 1923–2004, American photographer, b. New York City. Son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, he studied philosophy at Columbia, served in the photographic section of the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, and then studied photography at the New School. As a magazine staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar (1945–65) and Vogue (1966–90), Avedon redefined fashion photography as an art form in which realism mixed with fantasy, and he also became known for his arresting celebrity pictures. Although he originally used outdoor settings with models in motion, his later work predominantly consists of studio portraits set against a plain white background, and is stark and known for its uncompromising realism. Mainly black-and-white, these images of the famous and the unknown gain impact from the larger-than-life format in which they are often printed. His books include Nothing Personal (1964), Portraits (1976), In the American West (1985), An Autobiography (1993), Made in France (2001), and Avedon Fashion: 1944–2000 (2009). Avedon was staff photographer for the New Yorker from 1992 until his death.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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