This first Richard Avedon retrospective is unique in several ways. The exhibition appears in six locations around the world. After Copenhagen, Milan, Paris and Berlin, Amsterdam is the show’s final European venue. This Foam presentation is therefore the final opportunity to see such a large selection of works by one of the leading, most influential photographers of the twentieth century.Moreover, Avedon stipulated before his death that no posthumous prints were to be made from his negatives, or from files based on his negatives. This means that the number of prints of his work is limited to those which were made during his own lifetime or were personally approved by him. Working jointly with the Richard Avedon Foundation, the organisation that supervises Avedon’s entire estate, it has been possible to include various unique and rarely exhibited works in the current retrospective.
The exhibition is arranged more or less in chronological order, with major works selected from successive periods, from large projects or from groups of photos in which Avedon focused on a specific subject or event. The earliest works in the show date from shortly after the Second World War, when Avedon visited Rome and Sicily. This work has rarely been exhibited before. After his celebrated fashion photos from Paris in the 1950s, the emphasis shifts to Avedon’s fascination with human physiognomy. His portraits of famous artists such as Charlie Chaplin, Louis Armstrong, Marilyn Monroe, Alberto Giacometti and Marcel Duchamp are invariably at odds with the conventional image of stars of the time. Set against a white background, isolated from their surroundings, they reveal Avedon’s subjective and often ruthless vision of his subject. In the 1960s, Avedon’s work focused increasingly on social issues, with numerous portraits of activists and student leaders. In his monumental work, The Factory, Avedon portrayed the artist Andy Warhol and his entourage. No less than 56 photos from The Family are featured, taken in 1976 for Rolling Stone magazine, in which he published portraits of some of the most powerful figures in the United States at that time. Avedon’s well-known portraits of Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon, William Burroughs, John Ford and Jean Renoir are also shown in the exhibition. Following a selection of highlights from his In the American West project, the show ends with works made in Avedon’s final years, before his death in 2004.
The exhibition was assembled by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in collaboration with Foam and the Richard Avedon Foundation.
funny face opening credits, directed by richard avedon, inspired by Alexey Brodovitch.