Richard Avedon is an American photographer from New York City. He specializes on fashion and portraiture photography. He has photographed for Harper’s Bazaar, where he did not conform to the standard technique of taking fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action.
He left Harper’s to work as a staff photographer at Vogue magazine. He became the lead photographer of Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1979 to 1988.
He is also distinguished by his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and traveling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th Century portrait photography, and by some as Avedon’s magnum opus. Commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, it was a six-year project Avedon embarked on in 1979, that produced 125 portraits of people in the American west who caught Avedon’s eye.
The American West exhibit (1979): Avedon was drawn to working people such as miners and oil field workers in their soiled work clothes, unemployed drifters, and teenagers growing up in the West circa 1979-84. When first published and exhibited, In the American West was criticized for showing what some considered to be a disparaging view of America. Avedon was also lauded for treating his subjects with the attention and dignity usually reserved for the politically powerful and celebrities. Laura Wilson served as Avedon’s assistant during the creation of In the American West and in 2003 published a photo book documenting the experiences, Avedon at Work, In the American West.
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