Richard Avedon – Portraits

May 25, 2010

Over the weekend I finished Portraits by Richard Avedon. It’s a collection of some of his most famous portrait works from his non-fashion portfolio. The format of the book is fascinating. It’s set up as one long sheet of paper that’s been folded to about 30 8×10 panels. One side is just large portraits done by Avedon with one portrait to each panel. The flip-side is divided into 2 sections. The first is a short 20-page biography of Avedon sprinkled with accompanying photo, and the second is an auto-biographical work by Avedon called Borrow Dogs where he talks about his influences in photography as well as a discussion about the nature of portraiture and whether it is a lie or revealing the truth.

It’s a fascinating, if very brief glimpse into the man. I really enjoyed the text portions of the book. A lot of the portraits I had already seen in the book Richard Avedon: At Work In The American West, but there were several that I had never seen, like the 3-panel piece (originally 4 panels actually, although Avedon himself decided not to include the 4th panel) of Andy Warhol’s The Factory studio or his incredible portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

I’d call this a “borrow it” though unless you’re fanatical about Avedon’s work. The photos are lush and beautifully printed large, and they lie flat because of the way the book as “bound”, but ultimately I found it just to short to recommend it as a “buy it”.

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