Avedon, Richard

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, then studied photography at the New School. As a 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; he also became known for his arresting celebrity pictures. From 1992 until his death, he was a staff photographer for the New Yorker. In his earlier work he used outdoor settings with models in motion. His later work predominantly consists of studio portraits taken mainly in black and white with strobe lighting against a plain white background. Stark, with uncompromising realism, these images of the famous and unknown gain further impact from the larger-than-life format in which they are often printed. His books include Nothing Personal (text by James Baldwin, 1964; a work that revealed his social conscience), Portraits (1976), In the American West (1985), An Autobiography (1993), Made in France (2001), and Avedon Fashion: 1944–2000 (2009).

See oral history by N. Stevens and S. M. S. Aronson (2018); biography by P. Gefter (2020).

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