Photobook – Richard Avedon – Performance


Photobook – Richard Avedon – Performance

Size: 33 x 26 cm
Pages: 304
Published: 2008
Publisher: Abrams
Stock number: 017757/0123
Price: £125 + P & P
Hardcover. Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket ( as Issued ). First Edition. Self – enfolding black cloth covered boards, each with laid on photographic plate. Dual spines. The boards are clean and unfaded, the corners sharp. The pages are clean and bright. The closed page edges are crisp and bright. A lovely copy.
Performance sizzles with the electric charge that passes between a great photographer and an incandescent artist when they share a purpose and a passion. The photographer Richard Avedon had, in his own words, ‘a passion for high – definition performance and a faith in the religion of perpetual acceleration’. Or, as critic John Lahr says of Avedon, ‘He was ravished by the articulate energy of great performers’. The preeminent stars and artists of the performing arts from the second half of the twentieth century offered Avedon their greatest gifts – and, sometimes, their inner lives. More than two hundred of them are portrayed in Performance, many in photographs that have rarely or never been seen before. Of course, the great stars light the way: Hepburn and Chaplin, Monroe and Garland, Brando and Sinatra. But here too are the actors and comedians, pop stars and divas, musicians and dancers, artists in all mediums with public lives that were and are essentially performances. The celebrated author and critic John Lahr offers an elegant assessment of Avedon’s achievement. Four supremely talented artists from the performing arts – Mike Nichols, Andre Gregory, MitsUKo Uchida and Twyla Tharp – contribute lively and moving memoirs about their collaborations with Avedon. Finally, Performance is a remarkable achievement in book – making, from its innovative portfolio binding to the superb quality of its printing. Bound into a unique cloth portfolio case and includes facsimile printed on special paper.

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Richard Avedon was mesmerized by performance. He would crisscross New York to see an unknown actor in a Beckett play and then on to catch a friend in Chekhov, or head to Stockholm for an O’Neill drama directed by Bergman in Swedish. His preoccupation with theater often prompted visits to the same play many nights in a row, accompanied by exhausted friends. Sometimes he brought along the entire studio staff, teaching, poking with his elbow, making sure we experienced the same things that moved him. Much of that enthusiasm made its way into his pictures.

At Avedon’s side for nearly three decades I had the best job in the world: colleague, friend, voice of reason, accomplice. Overhearing the dialogue and observing the stagecraft behind the making of many of his photographs, I never tired of watching his performance.

Avedon worked every day, photographing, marking contacts, agonizing, changing his mind. Work was his exhilarant, a catalyst for ideas, inspiring images to be called upon as needed-an aging clown; a riotous theatrical troupe; an uncanny juxtaposition of arms, legs, and bodies that is a dance company. He looked with a reverent, unsentimental eye at performers, always acknowledging the craft and the complexity. The work was hard and he wasn’t afraid to fail. It could also be joyous, as the recollections that follow by some of his collaborators will describe.

Avedon was encouraging but relentless-Make it better. That’s it. Wait. Ooh. One more. We got it.


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