Richard Avedon: Master of the Portrait

Richard Avedon’s contribution to photography, particularly fashion and portraiture, was amongst the most far-reaching and influential of any of his contemporaries. The elegance, inventiveness and probing nature of his eye meant that he was in constant demand from the 1940s through to his death in 2004. Equal in stature to his great rival, Irving Penn, Avedon played a key role in developing and defining American visual culture throughout that period.

Whilst becoming one of the most significant fashion photographers of his day, Avedon also simultaneously developed as a portrait photographer, creating some of the most famous celebrity and documentary portraits of the 20th century.

Avedon understood the nature of fame, and endeared himself in allowing his famous sitters to play up to his camera. A great theatre lover and something of a celebrity himself, Avedon had great insight into both performance and public image, and allowed his sitters to be the people they wanted to be. He photographed most of the famous names and faces of his time, including Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and, seen here, Brigitte Bardot.

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