Feb. 29, 2024

This summer, Kunsthal Rotterdam is presenting a large-scale retrospective of the American photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004). With over a hundred and thirty photographs, the exhibition Richard Avedon: Relationships sheds light on Avedon’s groundbreaking contribution to fashion photography as well as his distinctive photographic portraits. His powerful, expressive portraits capture people like the writer Truman Capote, the actress Marlene Dietrich, the musician Bob Dylan, the artist Andy Warhol, and the actress and model Nastassja Kinski. Relationships is a celebration of Avedon's innovative power and creativity and shows how the photographer was able to convey the complexity and vulnerability of human relationships in the photographic frame like no other.

Richard Avedon is considered a pioneer in the fields of fashion and portrait photography. Over the course of his career, Avedon would often photograph his models on multiple occasions and at different stages of their lives, thus revealing the developments in the sitter’s character and the unique relationship between the photographer and his subject. The Kunsthal presents the master photographer’s extensive and varied body of work, offering insight into his working methods and zooming in on how, to this day, Avedon’s characteristic portraits of world-famous actors, dancers, artists, and literary greats are still image-defining in photography.

Fashion and potrait photography

Richard Avedon began his career in 1944, working for leading magazines like Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. Here he caused a revolution by photographing his models in realistic and dynamic settings that sharply contrasted with the static poses that were commonplace in fashion photography at that time. With his cinematic images, Avedon was able to create a narrative that transports the viewer to a world of glamour and entertainment. Typical of Avedon’s style is the way in which he positioned his model against a characteristic white background to completely zoom in on the individual. Each work offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the subjects in a way typically reserved for partners or family members. Avedon places the viewer so close to the sitter that even the tiniest wrinkles, lines, and hairs in his eyebrows are clearly visible. His portraits xemplify how Avedon succeeded in uncovering the emotions of his subjects and reveal the photographer’s unrelenting desire to render each individual detail of the people in front of his lens.

The exhibition Richard Avedon: Relationships will be on display in HALL 1 from 1 June. 

10. Richard Avedon, self-portrait, Provo, Utah, August 20, 1980 (20-02-24).jpg
Richard Avedon, self-portrait, Provo, Utah, August 20, 1980 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

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