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The Photography of Richard Avedon

The Photography of Richard Avedon

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How fitting, Kate, Naomi, Dovema and Verushka were all on display only steps away from the fashion show tents at Bryant Park as Fashion Week winds down. Part of the The International Center for Photography's Year of Fashion, the museum boasts the first-ever exhibition devoted to the entire career of legendary photographer Richard Avedon. The comprehensive show is partially underwritten by Harper's Bazaar where Avedon produced some of his most legendary images—including 40s supermodel Dorian Leigh in "rabbit ear" hat.
PHOTO GALLERY: See vintage Harper's Bazaar covers

Some of the muses you might not recognize but by the time you exit the midtown building you will be able to educate your friends about an era in fashion that we all still borrow from. Avedon's career began in the 40's and as the show states he "is the most significant and influential photographer to have taken fashion as one of his subjects." The show does not disappoint with iconic images so remarkable in their wit, elegance and formal perfection that I got goosebumps as I moved through the collection. Avedon was a brilliant stage setter and storyteller and to say that his work has influenced fashion advertising, editorial design and photography is beyond an understatement.

Viewing photographic prints created from actual negatives (instead of digitally) made me wistful and the images all the more magical. I was even more thrilled to see original mechanical boards, contact prints and collages being displayed in the gray gallery on the lower level. For the students taking in the show I wondered how they related to these "artifacts" on display. There are so many amazing images that it's hard to say any one was the standout but for me the images of Lauren Hutton taken in Exuma (Bahamas) in 1968 are striking, without being vulgar, in their overt sexual energy. Head thrown back with her breast exposed and her nipple upturned to the sun, Hutton was not recognizable to me but she and the images speak to the era right before the seventies when women's lib was about to wreck havoc on American sensibilities. Avedon spoke more than fashion...and if you miss the show, you can still score the gorgeous 400 page catalog published by Harry Abrams.
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