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Richard Avedon: Early Portraits

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to announce its representation of RICHARD AVEDON with an exhibition of Early Portraits from the late 1940s through the early 1970s.  Portraiture has always been at the core of Avedon’s work, and this exhibition re-examines, primarily through vintage prints, both well-known and entirely unfamiliar images that set the tone for much photographic portraiture of the late twentieth century.

Though enormously influential, Avedon’s commercial work has largely overshadowed the photographs he made for his own purposes:

Parallel to his professional life as photographer there has been an inner life as artist that sporadically assumes full possession.  This artist is consumed through visible traces on the human countenance.  The elusive problems that have preoccupied portraitists throughout history have converged in Avedon’s mature life as artist.  He has struggled with them and emerged using the same means as his painterly predecessors: increasing concentration, concision, daring and abstraction.  (Dore Ashton, “Out of the Whirlwind: Three Decades of Arts Commentary,” ch. 2)

Avedon has said that by doing work for the magazines “I created my own Guggenheim fellowship,” meaning that his commercial work subsidized his more personal projects.

Avedon’s personal projects have been many and varied, spanning the map of contemporary social history.  Avedon’s studio has served as a site through which a vast number of the twentieth century’s most important historical figures have passed.  Included in the exhibition will be portraits of Marcel Duchamp, Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol’s Factory, Dwight Eisenhower, Rudolf Nureyev, and Rose Mary Woods, among many others.  Seen together, these photographs become testament to Avedon’s role as one of our era’s most vigilant and passionate observers.