Close Up: Richard Avedon


“A portrait is a performance”

–Richard Avedon

Just to step onto the stage he created with a white paper cyclorama was an imperative for his sitters to perform. I watched Judi Dench will tears into her eyes for dramatic effect, Rufus Sewell assume the persona of a louche Hardyesque yokel, Nigel Hawthorne re-enact the madness of King George III… And all the while the maestro stood beside his 8×10 view camera, putting them at ease, and clicking the shutter at a character-revealing millisecond only he could divine.

The pianist Mitsuko Uchida describes these moments as “between two breaths…a moment of in-between actions, when people are not self-conscious”.

Here was a man whose subjects had included the artistic deities of the 20th century–Picasso, Stravinsky, the Beatles, Chaplin, Warhol, Auden, Bacon, Nureyev, Dylan… And for a performer, especially a young performer, to be photographed by Avedon was to be given the sense of having arrived.

An astonishing body of work, a deservedly stellar reputation, this living legend is being honored with two upcoming exhibitions and a new book.

-Intelligent Life



~ by eaesthete on 01/04/09.

One Response to “Close Up: Richard Avedon”

  1. Dear errant aesthete, your blog is beautifully displayed and so interesting. As an older aesthete, I love that your focus is on civility and culture at a time when we most need it. I look forward to an aesthetic new year with EA.

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