Richard Avedon, Andy Warhol and Members of the Factory, 30 October 1969
Richard Avedon: Murals and portraits
Richard Avedon (1923–2004) is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential fashion photographers of the second half of the twentieth century. The exhibition at Museum Brandhorst marks the first presentation of works by Richard Avedon from the holdings of the Udo and Anette Brandhorst Foundation. Right from the start of his career, his theatrically staged yet strikingly dynamic images of the key fashion trends of the time captured and defined the “look” of the moment.
Richard Avedon, Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, New York, 30 December 1963
The presentation at Museum Brandhorst skirts this fairly well known aspect of Avedon’s oeuvre which has already been documented in numerous exhibitions. Instead it focuses on other areas of the photographer’s work. In addition to straightforward fashion shoots, which secured the financial basis of his practice, Avedon was commissioned to produce portraits of public figures to illustrate magazine articles about them. The ensemble of these portraits forms a fascinating panorama of the cultural and political elites of America. Another early interest was the everyday life of anonymous people in the streets of southern Italy and New York.
Richard Avedon, Allen Ginsberg’s family, New Jersey, 3 May 1970
Against the backdrop of America’s social and political upheavals, from 1969 to 1971 Avedon embarked on the production of four large-scale photographic murals that occupy a key position in the history of the medium. Photographed in black and white, the shadowless group portraits are notable for their rigorous clarity and unflinching objectivity that seem to undermine the aesthetic autonomy of the works, so that they are not instantly perceived as art. Their powerful impact is primarily the result of the intensity and immediacy of the confrontation between the viewer and the photographs – or rather the people shown in them.