“Avedon: Women,” is an exhibition that spans six decades of Richard Avedon’s photography. This is the first solo exhibition of Avedon’s work in the Los Angeles area since 1976.
From the beginning of his career as a fashion photographer in the 1940s, Avedon was renowned for his distinctive and transformative imagery of women. His inventiveness, humor, and versatile talent flourished throughout sixty years of capturing both well-known and anonymous female subjects, ranging from celebrities and models to his friends and family. His images were imbued with an unconventional beauty and formidable intelligence.
More than 100 silver gelatin photographs form the core of the exhibition. Ranging from oversized exhibition prints dating from the artist’s 1978 showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to more intimately scaled photographs that he printed and editioned throughout his lifetime, the exhibition emphasizes the striking visual connections that lie beyond chronology or subject matter. It opens with a portrait of Cheryl Crane, the daughter of actress Lana Turner, who Avedon photographed in 1963 after she was exonerated for the killing of her mother’s abusive boyfriend. A 1959 portrait of Brigitte Bardot, printed on a monumental scale, presents her as serious and mysterious. In counterpoint is the large-scale print of artist June Leaf (1975), equally beautiful in her earthy understatedness. A salon-style hanging juxtaposes images such as the elegant Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes (1955) and socialite Elsa Maxwell, lying in bed with her pet skunk (1957).
Approximately 300 contact prints, drawn from the Foundation’s extensive archive of sittings, reveal the tremendous range of subjects that Avedon photographed: musician Ella Fitzgerald; Avedon’s adored sister, Louise; and the young actress Elizabeth Taylor, among many. An additional room is devoted to his unprinted color work, with dozens of transparencies displayed in wall-mounted light boxes. Subjects range from 1958–59 advertisements featuring Carmen Dell’Orefice to supermodels Stephanie Seymour and Christy Turlington.
The accompanying exhibition catalogue features an essay by Joan Juliet Buck that describes the experience of modeling for Avedon via interviews with his subjects, including Anjelica Huston, Lauren Hutton, Veruschka, and Andrea D’Amato, one of the many women from Avedon’s In the American West series. Art historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau discusses how Avedon’s depictions of the feminine extended beyond traditional notions of beauty to convey the deeper significance of his female subjects. View additional information about the exhibition on Gagosian.com.
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