In 1994, upon the (more or less) 50th anniversary of his career, New York’s Whitney Museum held a retrospective of the work of the photographer Richard Avedon. This book, with essays by the show’s curator, Jane Livingston, and New Yorker essayist and art critic Adam Gopnik, was the exhibition’s companion piece. And now it’s our best access to that comprehensive overview of the photographer’s work.
Born and raised in New York City where he was co-editor of his high school newspaper with James Baldwin (yes, that James Baldwin), Avedon attended Columbia University when Kerouac and Ginsberg did, dropped out and joined the Merchant Marine during World War II – and only then began taking pictures, launching him on the career that would make him the subject of retrospectives like the one at the Whitney.
But why? Is it merely the longevity, the 50 years captured here that were perhaps the heart of the American century? Is it the celebrities? Is it the fashion? Is it the journalism?
In short, yes.
There’s a complexity to Avedon’s work that is persistent and many-layered and (to read the rest of this review, please visit theagencyreview.wordpress.com/evidence/)