Last night on a an unseasonably warm spring evening in Chelsea, a who’s who of the art and fashion world turned out for the opening of Murals & Portraits by legendary photographer Richard Avedon.
Born in New York, Avedon was a trail blazer in the world of fashion. Starting at Harpers Bazaar in the 1940s and then moving to Vogue magazine in the late 1960s, where he remained on staff until 1988. His images graced countless covers of the magazine and in 1992 he was named the first ever staff photographer for The New Yorker.
Avedon is known to many as one of the biggest fashion photographers of all time. He famously shot the then 15 year old Brooke Shields in that legendary Calvin Klein jeans campaign. While at the top of his fashion career he began taking photographs of meaningful subjects such as Civil Rights Movement figures, Vietnamese anti-war protestors as well as survivors of napalm attacks, politicians and the power elite, seeking to depict the spirit of the times.
Avedon’s medium and one that you could arguably say he invented, is the portrait. He was able to take those extraordinary portraits which not only showed the beauty of the subjects but somehow gave you a glimpse inside their soul.
Murals & Portraits shows his massive photographic murals and portraits. The scale of the murals is huge with some measuring up 20 to 35 feet long. Walking around you are taken by his connection and documentation of moments in American history. His numerous candid portraits of Andy Warhol and his factory gang are haunting. Your eyes are drawn to the faces and expressions and you are left with a feeling of deep understanding of who each and every one of them were as well as the inherent tension within the group. This strong emotional connection to the portrait subjects takes you by surprise and will stay with you for a long time afterwards.
Richard Avedon died in 2004 at age 81 while on assignment for the New Yorker. His work is included in the collections of MoMA, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with countless other museums and institutions worldwide.Murals & Portraits. Richard Avedon. May 4th – July 6th, 2012. Gagosian Gallery. 522 West 21st Street. NY. 10011. Tel: 212 741 1717