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Best of the Best: Richard Avedon

"Photography has always reminded me of the second child... trying to prove itself. The fact that it wasn’t really considered an art... that it was considered a craft... has trapped almost every serious photographer." – Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004)

Richard Avedon, was a New York-born photographer who specialized in black & white fashion photography and portraiture. Unlike other master photographers, Avedon never completed his education. He ditched formal academics at the age of 17 to join the photographic section of the US Merchant Marine. He served as Photographer’s Mate Second Class and, for a couple of years, took identification potraits of the crew using his Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera (a present from his father). From time to time, he also photographed shipwrecks.

He developed his technical knowledge on photography and, soon, he set up his own studio and freelanced for different magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue – where he almost instantly became one of its eminent photographers. He developed his own retrospective style and one of the striking characteristics of his works was movement.

Richard Avedon’s Self-Portrait in Triptych via imagesetc

Avedon continually excelled in fashion photography and established his signature aesthetic as his reputation evolved; he presented faces, poses, and products with clarity and class. According to him, “My photographs don’t go below the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him.

His glorious photographs resulted from the white confinement of his studio, where he meticulously controlled and maintained the lighting he desired for every painstaking sitting he conducted with his models. Below are a few of his black-and-white-yet-alluring-and-vivid masterpieces which encapsulated the world of fashion photography until this modern age. Now, swoon, ladies and gentlemen!

Elise Daniels, Turban by Paulette, Pré-Catelan, Paris, August 1948 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Shoe by Perugia, Place du Trocadéro, Paris, August 1948 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Dorian Leigh, Dress by Piguet, Helena Rubenstein’s apartment, Ile St. Louis, Paris, August 1949 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Dovima with Elephants, Dress by Dior, Cirque d’Hiver, Paris, August 1955 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Suzy Parker with Robin Tattersall, Dress by Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1956 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Audrey Hepburn, With Art Buchwald with Simone, Frederick Eberstadt, Barbara Mullen and Dr. Regina, Maxim’s, Paris, July 1959 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Antonella Agnelli, Hair by Kenneth, New York, January 1961 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Naty Abascal and Ana-Maria Abascal with Helio Guerreiro, bathing suit by Brigance, Ibiza, Spain, September 1964 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Audrey Hepburn, New York, January 1967 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Veruschka, Dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Penelope Tree, Dress by Cardin, Paris, January 1968 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Penelope Tree, Suit by Ungaro, Paris, January 1968 © Richard Avedon via TIME
Stephanie Seymour, Dress and shoes by Chanel, Paris, September 1994 © Richard Avedon via TIME

Which of these Richard Avedon photographs strike your liking the most? What other fashion and portraiture photographers would you like to be written about? Read more about the Best of the Best Series.

This week, Lomography Magazine is dedicated to fashion! Read our editorial articles related to fashion and submit your own Requested Posts for September 2011!

written by basterda

23 comments

  1. marant69

    marant69

    Absolutely Dovima with Elephants a 1.2 million dollars shot! ;)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. buckshot

    buckshot

    The shot with the Abascal sisters is my favourite - beautiful, sexy and casually elegant.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. j_robert

    j_robert

    avedon's portraits are so inspiring. i am and always be in awe of his photography

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. lereile

    lereile

    I fell in love with avedon's photography when i saw an exhibition about his workin class portraits, i would like to see some of them again, i'll try to look for them!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  5. lereile

    lereile

    -->richard avedon: in the american west’.
    this exhibition showed, for the first time in europe, the full
    sequence of 124 portraits of the working class people of the
    american west, which avedon took between 1979 and 1984,<-- i was talking about these ones
    http://www.richardav(…)=0&amp;at=0 here it is the link to the portfolio of the series, enjoy!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  6. wonderdude

    wonderdude

    Love the quote at the beginning of the article!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  7. emperornorton

    emperornorton

    Love Avedon, especially his nonfashion series.

    When are you going to do Edward Weston and his sexy bell peppers?

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  8. panelomo

    panelomo

    astig.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  9. b0rn2b1ush

    b0rn2b1ush

    wonderful stuff! thanks, @lereile, for sharing the link. reminded me of his dance series, which is just awesome.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  10. hughh

    hughh

    The last picture is amazing. Simply perfect

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  11. aprilia

    aprilia

    Pure elegance. My most favorite is the shot with roller skates but...all of them is beautiful!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  12. avocado-in-a-world-of-cucumbers

    avocado-in-a-world-of-cucumbers

    Audrey Hepburn, New York, January 1967 - absolutely stunning and very original. what a photographer!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  13. ecsantana

    ecsantana

    I can say a life was worth if when we die our existance and works keep being celebrated with words like the above...
    cool article.
    extraordinary pictures...
    maybe one day I'll get close to that skills...
    hope I live long enough...
    ;)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  14. arabrab

    arabrab

    I cannot pick one favorite, i am seriously in love with the work from Richard Avedon. He is my big inspiration.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  15. guanatos

    guanatos

    he's one of the best of all time!!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  16. bernardjoy-dones

    bernardjoy-dones

    very inspiring.. =)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  17. alexluyckx

    alexluyckx

    Love the one of Suzy Parker with Robin Tattersall rollerskating. Thanks for the Rolleiflex love, very inspiring indeed ^_^
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  18. feelux

    feelux

    Best of the Best! Really inspiring!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  19. mariaratfingers

    mariaratfingers

    absolute genius!! he's up on a pedestal for me. and i agree with @emperornorton, i love his nonfashion works the most too. one of my own personal favorites is this one: http://www.richardav(…)=0&amp;at=0 portrait of genius writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras. this one as well: http://www.richardav(…)=0&amp;at=0 Marc Chagall. all of his portraits are just so expressive and intense. please check them all out at his site. you'll be blown away.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  20. realisticdreamer

    realisticdreamer

    Ugh, these photos slay me...They're really beautiful.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  21. ncsphotography

    ncsphotography

    amazing photos! love em
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  22. pangmark

    pangmark

    Actually his self portraits are my favourites

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  23. gmarnn

    gmarnn

    respect...

    over 2 years ago · report as spam

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