Friday, January 9, 2015

Richard Avedon

One afternoon in Melbourne, I decided to walk into the Ian Potter Museum to kill some time and why not, I love galleries and things of that sort. Upon my entry, I looked around to see some familiar portraits I've probably came across over several fashion magazines. A portrait of Elizabeth Taylor during her prime days, and each of the Beatles members. Other portraits of individuals I was not familiar with were so raw that they truly told a story through the beautiful lines and details across their faces. I must have started the exhibition at the wrong side of the room so I went across to the other room to read the photographer's description.

I was in delightfulness..I stumbled upon a Richard Avedon Exhibition. I've read about his work (and him) in Grace Coddington's memoir, Grace, and there I was, dumbfounded. I came across this photograph that scaled from ceiling to floor (as were many of the other iconic portraits) and fell in love with it. Titled, "Dovima with Elephants and Cirque D'Hiver" in Paris, photographed in 1955. I wanted so badly to take it home with me, including the white frame that housed it. I tried desperately to take pictures of it in its glory sneakily with the gallery guards around despite the "no photographs" sign. I shall not post those horrible quality pictures as to being a responsible art gallery go-er. That photograph is my favourite to date. It represents bits of things that I admire, really.

I never realized it, but have always loved Avedon's portraits. For every single portrait I have come across had evoked some sort of emotion in me. Not only for his work in fashion but in his reportage. There was a series of photographs of a Mental Institution by Avedon too that was displayed at the exhibition, presenting what is probably a painful but true depiction of what is seen at the East Louisiana Mental Asylum. It reminded me a lot of what I've seen in real life, and to me, revealed courage and strength.

At the end of the exhibition, I bought two postcards. Of Dovima and Marilyn Monroe. As I watched the lady at the counter gently slip them into a white envelop for me, I smiled. I now have a piece of Avedon's work with me. They still sit in that white envelop today as I slowly, but surely make some new arrangements to my room.

I find Truman Capote's description of Avedon in his essay, "On Richard Avedon" simple, but apt:

"Richard Avedon, is a man with gifted eyes."

To me, and I'm sure in the eyes of many others, he truly is.

For more Richard Avedon, click here to the Richard Avedon Foundation.

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