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Richard Avedon: Readings of the Surface

Palazzo Reale in Milan presents a selection of about 100 images from Richard Avedon’s 60-year-long career, which left an indelible mark in 20th Century photography.

According to Richard Avedon, “charm is the ability to be truly interested in people”. It is fascinating to see the shape this curiosity takes in portraits of timeless personalities like Truman Capote, Malcom X, Marylin Monroe, Michelangelo Antonioni, Marlene Dietrich, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frank. As a fashion photographer, Avedon also freed models from rigid constraints, enabling them to wear their own expressions and take ownership of the space.

Dovima with elephants, evening dress by Dior, Cirque d'Hiver, Paris, August 1955

Truman Capote, writer, New York, October 10, 1955

Carmen (homage to Munkácsi), coat by Cardin, Place François-Premier, Paris, August 1957

Malcolm X, Black Nationalist leader, New York, March 27, 1963

The exhibition puts an emphasis on Avedon’s collaboration with Versace, the magazine Vogue, and his privileged professional relationship with legendary models like Dovima, Twiggy, Veruschka. A close friend of James Baldwin and independent thinker, Avedon inspired generations after him. “My photographs don’t go below the surface,” he stated. “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.”

Jean Shrimpton, evening dress by Cardin, Paris, January, 1970

John Lennon, musician, The Beatles, London, England, August 11, 1967

Shoe by Perugia, Place du Trocadéro, Paris, August 1948

Self-portrait, Provo, Utah, August 20, 1980

The exhibition “Richard Avedon: Relationships” is on view at Palazzo Reale in Milan, Italy, until January 29, 2023.

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