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Indepth Arts News:

"Richard Avedon : Photographs 1946 to 2004"
2009-07-11 until 2009-11-29
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco, CA, USA

As a highlight of its summer exhibitions schedule, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to present Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946–2004, on view from July 11 through November 29, 2009. Widely celebrated as one of America's preeminent photographers, Avedon was among the first to challenge the conventional boundaries between studio photography and reportage. Some of his best-known portraits—a young Bob Dylan standing in the rain, Marilyn Monroe caught in a vulnerable moment, Andy Warhol and his Factory cohorts—are the most iconic of the 20th century.

SFMOMA is the only U.S. venue for this exhibition, which is the first major retrospective of the Avedon's work since his death in 2004. A selection of nearly 200 photographs spanning the artist's entire career are presented roughly chronologically, highlighting major themes and benchmarks of Avedon's output: his early, post–World War II street scenes; his breakthrough Paris fashion work in the 1950s; his far-reaching survey of American counterculture in the 1960s and '70s; his Reagan-era series, which focused on ordinary people living in the western United States; and his portraits of the nation's most influential people.

The exhibition was organized by Helle Crenzien for The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in cooperation with The Richard Avedon Foundation. Its San Francisco presentation is overseen by SFMOMA Senior Curator of Photography Sandra S. Phillips and is made possible by generous support from the Bernard Osher Foundation and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC.

"Avedon is one of our great photographers whose work only increases in influence and resonance," says Phillips. "SFMOMA is thrilled to present this important overview, which offers the first opportunity to examine the whole of Avedon's achievement and his integral place in the history of photography."

Avedon was committed to photography as a social transaction. His subjects—even those who were anonymous—face the camera in implicit awareness of their collaboration in the portrait-making process. Beginning with one of Avedon's early street photographs (taken in Rome in 1946) and ending with his portrait of pop musician Björk (made less than four months before the photographer's sudden death), Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946–2004 reveals the profoundly social dimension of all the artist's work, celebrating his never-ending fascination with people and his persistent desire to absorb and represent cultural change.

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