Richard Avedon 1923 —2004


"All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."

What do Brigitte Bardot, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jacques Cousteau, Andy Warhol, Jimmy Durante, Jean Genet, and Lena Horne have in common? They were a few of the many personalities caught on film by photographer Richard Avedon. For more than fifty years, Richard Avedon's portraits have filled the pages of the country's finest magazines. His stark imagery and brilliant insight into his subjects' characters has made him one of the premier American portrait photographers.

Born in New York in 1923, Richard Avedon dropped out of high school and joined the Merchant Marine's photographic section. Upon his return in 1944, he found a job as a photographer in a department store. Within two years he had been "found" by an art director at Harper's Bazaar and was producing work for them as well as Vogue, and a number of other magazines. During the early years, Avedon made his living primarily through work in advertising. His real passion, however, was the portrait and its ability to express the essence of its subject.

As Avedon's notoriety grew, so did the opportunities to meet and photograph celebrities from a broad range of disciplines. Avedon's ability to present personal views of public figures, who were otherwise distant and inaccessible, was immediately recognized by the public and the celebrities themselves. Many sought out Avedon for their most public images. His artistic style brought a sense of sophistication and authority to the portraits. More than anything, it is Avedon's ability to set his subjects at ease that helps him create true, intimate, and lasting photographs.

Throughout his career Avedon has maintained a unique style.  Famous for their minimalism, Avedon portraits are often well lit and in front of white backdrops. When printed, the images regularly contain the dark outline of the film in which the image was framed. Within the minimalism of his empty studio, Avedon's subjects move freely, and it is this movement which brings a sense of spontaneity to the images. Often containing only a portion of the person being photographed, the images seem intimate in their imperfection.  While many photographers are interested in either catching a moment in time or preparing a formal image, Avedon has found a way to do both.

Beyond his work in the magazine industry, Avedon has collaborated on a number of books of portraits. In 1959 he worked with Truman Capote on a book that documented some of the most famous and important people of the century. OBSERVATIONS included images of Buster Keaton, Gloria Vanderbilt, Pablo Picasso, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mae West. Around this same time he began a series of images of patients in mental hospitals. Replacing the controlled environment of the studio with that of the hospital he was able to recreate the genius of his other portraits with non-celebrities. The brutal reality of the lives of the insane was a bold contrast to his other work. Years later he would again drift from his celebrity portraits with a series of studio images of drifters, carnival workers, and working class Americans.

Throughout the 1960s Avedon continued to work for Harper’s Bazaar and in 1974 he collaborated with James Baldwin on the book Nothing Personal. Having met in New York in 1943, Baldwin and Avedon were friends and collaborators for more than thirty years. For all of the 1970s and 1980s Avedon continued working for Vogue magazine, where he would take some of the most famous portraits of the decades. In 1992 he became the first staff photographer for New Yorker, and two years later the Whitney Museum brought together fifty years of his work in the retrospective, "Richard Avedon: Evidence". He was voted one of the ten greatest photographers in the world by Popular Photography magazine, and in 1989 received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London. Today, his pictures continue to bring us a closer, more intimate view of the great and the famous.

Avedon died on October 1st, 2004.

An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs  by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.

To bookmark Janet Lehr Fine Arts Gallery website:

View synoptic biography below.


Born in 1923 in New York, NY
Died in 2004 in San Antonio, TX


Columbus Museum of Art "Modern Dialect: American Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection," Jun 6, 2014 - Aug 31, 2014

The Museum of Modern Art "American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe," Aug 17, 2013 - Jan 26, 2014
The Armory Show 2013, Mar 7, 2013 - Mar 10, 2013

"Modern Dialect: American Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection," Dixon Gallery and Gardens, May 6, 2012 - Jul 15, 2012

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art "George Copeland Ault: Ault on Paper," Oct 5, 2011 - Apr 29, 2012
Smithsonian American Art Museum "To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America," Mar 11, 2011 - Sep 5, 2011The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Whitney Museum of American Art (solo)

Milch Galleries

Woodstock Artists Association

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

National Academy of Design

Art Institute of Chicago

Albany Institution of History and Art

Carnegie Institute

Brooklyn Museum

Whitney Museum of American Art

Montclair Art Museum

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Grand Central Art Gallery

Downtown Gallery

J.B. Neumann's New Art Circle

Salons of American

Bourgeois Gallery (solo)

Society of Independent Artists

St. John's Wood School of Art

A great number of museums collect the works of Richard Avedon including:

Birmingham Museum of Art; Phoenix Art Museum; Berkeley Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; De Young Museum (San Francisco); Museum of Photographic Arts; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The J. Paul Getty Museum; San Diego Museum of Art ; Denver Art Museum; Yale University Art Gallery; The Corcoran Gallery of Art; The Southeast Museum of Photography; High Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Indianapolis Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Fogg Art Museum; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover); The Detroit Institute of Arts; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Walker Art Center; The Saint Louis Art Museum; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; The Sheldon Art Galleries; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum; George Eastman House; Brooklyn Museum of Art (Brooklyn); Ackland Art Museum (U of NC, Chapel Hill); Cincinnati Art Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Toledo Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Carnegie Museum of Art; Amon Carter Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts; The Menil Collection; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Chrysler Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Nara City Museum of Photography - Japan; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography - Japan; and National Museum of Photography, Film and Television - England


Home / Artist Index / Richard Avedon


Art Blog

Metropolitan Museum of Art Annual costume Institute Gala and exhibition opening will be May 1, 2017
Turner's Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time February 23, 2017 to May 14, 2017 - Frick Museum
'The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers' Review: Etchings With a Painterly Touch. Wall Street Journal.
View All

The Vered Gallery App