Richard Avedon (b. 1923, New York; d. 2004, San Antonio) was born in New York City and joined the Young Men’s Hebrew Association camera club at the age of 12. After serving as a Photographer’s Mate Second Class in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, he began working as a freelance photographer, primarily for Harper’s Bazaar, in 1944. Under the tutelage of Alexey Brodovitch, Avedon quickly became the magazine’s lead photographer, while also creating formal portraits for many other sources, including his own portfolio.
First showcased in Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1955, Avedon’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. His first retrospective was held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. in 1962 and was followed by solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (1970), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1974), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (1985), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994), among others. Avedon was the first living photographer to receive two shows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1978 and 2002).
Avedon died while working on an assignment called “Democracy” for The New Yorker during the 2004 presidential election. During his lifetime, he established The Richard Avedon Foundation in New York City, which now houses his archive and works with curators and collectors around the world.
Geneva—Pace is honoured to present the gallery’s first exhibition of Richard Avedon’s work in Geneva, at Quai des Bergues 15-17, from 21 September to 2 November 2018. The exhibition follows Pace and Pace MacGill’s announcement of their representation of The Richard Avedon Foundation last November. The exhibition explores the central themes of Avedon’s oeuvre including portraiture, performance and the complexities of the human spirit. It will feature a broad spectrum of social and cultural perspectives, from artists and performers to astronauts and politicians.
Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Katharine Hepburn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Bob Dylan are some of the celebrated cultural figures of the past six decades whose portraits will be on view in the show. The exhibition will also highlight talents whose legacies have particularly impacted Switzerland, including Sophia Loren, Charlie Chaplin and Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.
The exhibition will present the breadth of Avedon’s achievements and encompass works spanning his entire career. A particular highlight will be the 1955 photograph Dovima with elephants (1955), one of the fashion world’s most iconic pictures, and featured in collections of renowned art institutions across the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Avedon’s relationship with artists, such as Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, and Andy Warhol, will be emphasized throughout the exhibition. The artist’s striking 1969 portrait of Warhol, bearing the shots he received from a former Factory collaborator a year prior, underscores the raw and bold subject matter that Avedon pursued throughout his career. Similar depth is evoked in the portrait of Francis Bacon on a white background. Speaking on this work, Avedon said: ‘The white background isolates the subject from itself and permits you to explore the geography of the face; the unexplored continents in the human face.’ Photographed a decade after the death of Bacon’s lover, George Dyer, the photograph brilliantly exposes the painter’s interior complexity.