Portraits by Richard Avedon

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“All my first models, Dorian Leigh, Elise Daniels, Carmen, Marella Agnelli, Audrey Hepburn, were brunettes and had fine noses, long throats, oval faces. They were all memories of my sister. My sense of what was beautiful was established very early through the way in which I experienced her. I photographed her from 14 to 18. She was the prototype of what I considered beautiful in my early years as a photographer.”

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“There’s always been a separation between fashion and what I call my ‘deeper’ work. Fashion is where I make my living. I’m not knocking it. It’s a pleasure to make a living that way. It’s pleasure and then there’s the deeper pleasure of doing my portraits. It’s not important what I consider myself to be, but I consider myself to be a portrait photographer.”

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“My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. But whenever I become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, I feel I’ve lost what’s really there … been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him. That’s not usually the best. So each sitting becomes a contest.”

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photos: Richard Avedon; quotes by Richard Avedon, via the The Richard Avedon Foundation; the first one originally appeared in “An Interview with Richard Avedon” by Nicole Wisniak, Egoïste (September, 1984); 2nd quote (1974); 3d quote (1980)


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