Truman Capote, écrivain, New York, 10 octobre 1955. Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Fondation
This past May 4th, La Lettre de la Photographie announced in an avant-première the international exclusive representation of Richard Avedon by the Gagosian Gallery. During his lifetime, Richard Avedon (1923-2004) had created the Avedon Foundation and appointed as trustee of his prints, negatives and other documents as well as dealer of his work. Today it is the Gagosian Gallery who carries out the diffusion. One of the first activities of this agreement will take place with the presentation of the Paris’ “Project Space”, featuring portraits of writers shot by the photographer between 1950 and 1970. Avedon: Writers is part of a continuity of the recent exhibition of his portraits of artists in New York.
All throughout his 60 year career, Richard Avedon worked mostly on commissions for portraits of celebrities and as well as writers. Among them Truman Capote, whom he photographed many times, Jorge Luis Borges, Henry Miller, Jean Genet, Ezra Pound and the poet Marianne Moore… all whom have become models of a genre themselves.
In the preface of the book Portraits by Richard Avedon published in 1976 by “Chêne” Editions, Harold Rosenberg emphasizes the struggle between the model and the photographer that can sometimes reach a photographic “harassment” in order to unsettle the model in order to find a moment of truth. According to Michel Cournot, Avedon would create a negation of the subject. He would place them in front of a white background, with no objects, no reflection “which is not at all a neutral background, as it is a refusal of the universe. The background is a void, the subject is there alone, there is not even a link with weather, time… Cruelty or stylization.”
Avedon also contributed to “enlarging the concepts of art and culture in 20th century photography creating deep reflections on life, death, beauty, social classes, race and identity.”
With works most of the time considered commercial, his portraits have modified the boundaries of the established genres of photography. They have also shown, as revealed in the exhibition featured at the Corcoran Gallery of Art “Richard Avedon Portraits of Power (2008-2009), that more than a fashion photographer, he was a committed photographer, whether in the American civil rights movement, the anti war demonstrations, or anonymous faces. As stated by Michel Guerrin (Le Monde, Friday December 12, 2008) “Avedon has accomplished a strange thing: creating political photography on a portrait level”.
Avedon : Writer
June 8– July 28, 2011
4, rue de Ponthieu
75008 Paris France