The Interior World of Richard AvedonPhotography
Above the photographer’s famous Upper East Side studio was his own live-work apartment—in which every wall was a bulletin board and decorating was an exercise in brilliant juxtapositions. See formore...
On the other side of the living room, a portrait from Avedon’s “In the American West” series and an Amy Arbus picture of a baby
A view from the middle of the living room, looking toward a side room in which Avedon kept an extra bed with books on top of it. The mirror in that room reflects back to the kitchen and garden on the other end of the apartment. To the right of the mirror, in the background, is a hallway leading to Avedon’s bedroom; the hall is also where he had his desk. In the living room, an August Sander photograph hangs above a small dining table, right, that was inspired by photographs Avedon took in Butte, Montana. Meant to evoke mining equipment, the table has an I-beam-style base and a top inlaid with copper. It and the coffee table, built to hold as many books as possible, were designed by Brian Tolle. The English oak chairs around the dining table were made in the twenties by Robert Thompson, who signed each one with a little carving of a mouse. A Jacques Henri Lartiguephotograph of Avedon sits on the floor behind one of the chairs.
Avedon loved to serve meals at this dining table, and he liked the fact that you could see into the kitchen from the rest of the apartment: The dishes and pans all in full view. On the table is one of the architectural models of staircases that he collected.
A view of Avedon’s desk near his bedroom, with another staircase model and pictures taken from some of his recent shoots for The New Yorker, including his last project for the magazine, the “Democracy” series, which he was working on when he died.
In the kitchen, a poster of Giacometti facing a Giacometti competes for attention with jars of tomatoes and bottles of vinegar. See for theDroste Effect ...
A Victorian oak bed, from Turbulence, served as both makeshift bookshelf and tie rack. The animal prints are by Audubon, and Avedon’s 1972 portrait of Oscar Levant dominates a wall of pictures of women by various photographers. On the right is one of the small cactus lamps that Avedonliked to collect.
For his bed, Avedon envisioned a system by which many books would be within arm’s reach. The structure, designed by Brian Tolle and built by Jim Gratson, is mahogany. But Tolle got the idea for the containers from cleaning out a shed at his Catskills house: “I found an old Bear Mountain water-cooler crate.” Tolle first had 100 cardboard boxes made so thatAvedon could play with the configuration. Avedon’s book collection included a rare 34-volume set of Christian Zervos’s Pablo Picasso catalogue raisonné (he was also fond of Proust). Avedon commissioned the artist Christopher Hewat to make cameras out of brass, as seen on the right. Other brass objects by Hewat, like the book, were gifts.
Avedon’s portrait of Charlie Chaplin bidding a less-than-fond farewell to America.
A closer peek at Avedon's living room.