1960s America , an era filled with the most significant, beautiful and tragic happenings ranging from Joanne Woodward receiving the first star on the Hollywood walk of fame, Barbie gets a boyfriend when the Ken doll is introduced. President Kennedy is assassinated, Ford motors introduced the Mustang, LSD is declared an illegal by the US government, Richard Nixon is elected president and Neil Armstrong walks on the moon and that’s just the mainstream. Meanwhile in the art world of the 1960s marks the turning point of Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon’s career as they both redirect their careers from commercial to more independent and personal styles.
Both artists have a parallel output that occasionally overlapped, for instance they both had a shared focus on portraiture and made use of “repetition” and “serialisation” and example Avedon used his photography as a medium to reproduce and in his group photographs where he meticulously positioned, collaged and re-ordered images. The method Warhol used was stacked screen printing which enabled a consistent reproduction of images. Their distinctive styles (Avedon’s Gelatin Silver prints and Warhol’s bold coloured silkscreens) depicts many of the same recognisable faces: Marella Agnelli, Bianca Jagger Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Rudolf Nureyer and that’s just to name a few.
To juxtapose the artists work, the Gagosian Gallery strategically places the artists work that underscores these themes, for example the images by each artists such as Richard Avedon’s ‘The Family’ (1976) and Andy Warhol’s Mao Tse-Tung (1972) depicts little emotion or expression in the subject’s faces or even body language. In association with Warhol the mark of Pop Art is “deadpan” but it always came with mixed feelings or emotions but equally applicable to Alvedon for instance.
Outside the artsy mainstream, both artist sought out individuals for Avedon it was his larger than life-sized mural of Andy Warhol and members of the Factory (Warhol’s studio, 1969) who back then represented the heart of New York’s subculture and sexual and cultural revolution. Warhol on the other hand immortalised the beauty of Drag Queen in his series of silkscreens called ‘Ladies and Gentlemen (1975).
Among the collection in the third gallery harbours the images of the darker side of human existence: Warhol’s ‘Skull’ and ‘Guns’ paintings are again juxtapose with Avedon’s ‘Brandenburg Gate’ photograph taken during the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989’.
Iconic images of Brigitte Bardot (1959) and Audrey Hepburn (1967) by Richard Avedon. Double Elvis (1963) and ‘Four Marilyns’ (revised series, 1986) by Andy Warhol. You can tell that celebrity was a topic that was explored by both Artists.
With potential to stir change with their work which was driven by their cosmopolitan awareness Avedon and Warhol’s images harness the power to reflect the social attitudes of their time.
From humble beginnings Richard Avedon was born in 1923, Avedon’s first job was at Harper’s Bazaar after forming a close bond with Alexey Brodovitch who was the art director of the magazine. It was when Avedon was assigned to cover the spring and fall fashion collections in Paris, he was tasked to stage photographs of models wearing the new fashions in a real city setting such as picturesque cafes, street cars and so on.
It was at this point that Avedon was tagged as the most talented young fashion photographer in the industry. Having been Harper Bazaar’s in house photographer for 20 years. He was known for his portrait his amazing black and white portraiture work the essence of humanity and vulnerability within such public figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Malcolm X and so on.
After Avedon left Harper Bazaar he then wen onto work for Vogue, while still continuing to produce amazing portraits of cultural and political figures such as Stephen Sondheim, Hillary Clinton, Toni Morrison just to name a few. Avedon was know to be driving force of photography being recognised as "legitimate” art. It was in Oct 2004 when Richard Avedon passed away while on an assignment for the New Yorker Magazine.
Born in 1928 Pittsburgh, Warhol’s first freelance job was at Glamour Magazine where he became a successful commercial artist working for most of the major fashion magazines. In the late 1950s Warhol began pay more attention to painting and in 1961 he debuted the concept of Pop Art paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. His now iconic paintings of the Campbell’s soup cans was first exhibited in 1962and this caused the art world to stir and brought Warhol and Pop Art into the spotlight for the first time. From then onwards Warhol had a fruitful career and in New York February 1987 at the age of 58 he died.
Today the Gagosian Gallery took us on an artistic journey of Richard Avedon and Andy Warhol and was shown the common themes of social political power, the ever growing acceptance of cultural differences, morality and lastly the glamour and despair of celebrities captured by both artists.