Richard Avedon, Judy Garland, 1951
Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton & Hermione Gingold, 1956
Richard Avedon, Jimmy Durante & Beatrice Lillie, 1951
Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923–October 1, 2004) was able to take his early success in fashion photography and expand it into the realm of fine art. Avedon was born in New York City to a Jewish family. After briefly attending Columbia University, he started as a photographer for the Merchant Marines in 1942, taking identification pictures of the crewmen with his Rolleiflex camera. In 1944, he was discovered by Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for Harper's Bazaar. In 1946, Avedon had set up his own studio and began providing images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He soon became the chief photographer for Harper's Bazaar. He did not conform to the standard technique of taking fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action. In 1966, Avedon left Harper's Bazaar to work as a staff photographer for Vogue magazine. In addition to his continuing fashion work, Avedon began to branch out and photographed patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, protesters of the Vietnam War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and traveling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th Century portrait photography. Avedon was married in 1944 to Dorcas Nowell, a model known professionally as Doe Avedon. After five years, they divorced and in 1951, he married Evelyn Franklin, but they also separated. Avedon became the first-ever staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992. He has won many awards for his photography, including the International Center of Photography Master of Photography Award in 1993 and the Royal Photographic Society 150th Anniversary Medal in 2003. On September 25, 2004, he suffered a brain hemorrhage in San Antonio, Texas while shooting an assignment for The New Yorker. He died in San Antonio on October 1.