You know, strangely, while taking my daughter to kindergarten a month ago I saw what I instantly recognized as Avedon's mug shot from what I think is the 60's. Poster sized and mounted to the pillar of a freeway overpass. I went back to see what the caption at the bottom said. I wanted to take it but it came apart in pieces as I tried to remove it. I thought the caption was fitting as not only a statement from the "artiste" who made the poster, but also what Avedon might say to his critics. It said simply, "Kiss My Ass".
Gone, but never forgotten..I know Lee was at the talk he did at the Amon Carter, here last year...sure glad we both made it. He was fun and full of life, sounds like he left this world doing what he loved - his person will be missed, his spirt will live a long, long time.
I suppose we are witnessing the passing of the greatest generation of photographers. My first photo editor died this week as well. He was 86. I'm sure he'll meet Avedon in heaven they'll argue over technique.
"If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up," he said in 1970. "I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible." (Quote from a San Diego newspaper). An inspiring photographer who, like all too many lately, will be sorely missed.
the most recent issue of "the New Yorker" (10/04) has a wonderful Avedon photo in it. We should all be so fortunate to be able to keep it up to 81! He leaves an incredible body of work, and won't soon be forgotten.
Richard had an elitest lifestyle yet he remained true to his voice. Not only did I enjoy his work but had huge respect for him as an artist. People on this site have asked "when do I know I've got it?" Well, he had "it" from the outset and led the charge that open so many avenues for the rest of us. He as a human will be missed but his images will never die.
I'm going into the weekend totally bummed. I can only imagine how his family must feel, and I share at least a small portion of their grief. Avedon was responsible for inspiring me to get back into photography after a 25 year lay-off, via the episode about him on the "American Masters" series on PBS. He also, by the same third-party route, taught me that I am more of a portrait photographer rather than a landscape photographer. Thanks Richard!
The only thing that makes me feel better about this is my own somewhat rude/sick fantasy that his last mortal words were, "Death before digital!" And think of the sights he's seeing now! I hope he at least brought his Rollei.
I was very fortunate to have met Richard Avedon in 1979 when he came to Atlanta for an exhibit of his work "Photographs 1947-1977".
I was able to talk to him about his photography for quite a while one afternoon; he never seemed to me to be an elitist. He was quite at ease speaking about his work and his love of being a photographer.
Avedon had access to a wide range of fashion celebrities and pop icons through out his career and in a sense documented a lengthy period of fashion and pop culture uniquely (which he was paid to do of course). My favorites of his work was done during the late forties and through the fifties with models such as Suzi Parker and Dovima. It isn't often that a single photograph can tell a story, but often his fashion work seemed to, albeit stories of fantasy.
Often I feel uncomfortable with the depiction of beautiful people in advertising photography, but Avedon often transcended that kind of photography to an art form. There are only two other photographers from that era in the fifties that could match him in that respect, William Klein and Irving Penn. But Avedon and his photographs was truly one of a kind. It's amazing to see how much of his style has been copied, even today and presented as though it is a new way of seeing and photographing. Even Helmut Newton copied Avedon.
The most memorable quote about Avedon that I can recall was made by Brook Shields, I'm paraphrasing, when she was asked how did she address Avedon, as Richard or Mr. Avedon. Shields answered "I call him dick and quite a few other names!".
When he was here in Ft. Worth, he was asked how he could make a photo when maybe he was not in the best of moods or not feeling really up to it. His reply was that he was a journeyman photographer and that is what journeyman photographers do. Says a lot about how he thought of himself. Knowing he is not here anymore makes me miss him more.