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The Legend Continues

When Richard Avedon’s “Dovima with Elephants” sold at Christie’s for $1.15 million last year, it broke the record for the late photographer.

When Richard Avedon’s “Dovima with Elephants” sold at Christie’s for $1.15 million last year, it broke the record for the late photographer.  The 1955 image of the supermodel (before the term existed) wearing a Christian Dior gown, and flanked by elephants is an iconic example of the late great photographer’s epic body of work. That sale—which included a total of 65 lots—earned nearly $7.5 million, and cemented Avedon’s status as a truly collectible artist.

Homage to Munkacsi. Carmen, coat by Cardin, Place Francois-Premier, Paris, August 1957.

Just six months after that record-breaking auction, the Richard Avedon Foundation has found a new home at the Gagosian Gallery. Announced last week, the Gagosian Gallery—a veritable empire that spans across three continents—will have global rights to the Richard Avedon Foundation and all of its holdings. Previously held by the Fraenkel Gallery, a much smaller gallery in San Francisco, the Foundation’s holdings include Avedon’s fashion, reportage and portrait photography.

Suzy Parker, Antigua, West Indies, January 1962.

Born in 1923 in New York City, Avedon began his fashion photography career in 1945 as a staff photographer at Harper’s Bazaar. On staff for 20 years there, he shot for the magazine’s renowned editors, including Diana Vreeland, Marvin Snow and art director Ruth Ansel. (For a closer look at the relationship between Ansel and Avedon, see our feature in the 2010 Winter issue of Bal Harbour Magazine, here.)

Audrey Hepburn, New York, January 1967.

In 1957, Avedon was asked to be a visual consultant on the Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn film, Funny Face, which was based on his own career. The first exhibition of his work, “Richard Avedon,” was mounted at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. in 1962. In the years that followed he began to become involved in reportage photography, beginning with his coverage of the Civil Rights Movement. He later became a staff photographer at Vogue under Diana Vreeland, where he remained until 1990. Two years later he became the first staff photographer at The New Yorker under Tina Brown and later, David Remnick.

Following his death in 2004, the Richard Avedon Foundation was established. Here, we take a look at some of Avedon’s most memorable fashion images.

Sunny Harnett, cape by Jean Dessès, Paris, August 1954 (left), Kate Moss, May 1998 (right).

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