Happy Birthday Richard Avedon

Today is the 91st birthday of famed photographer Richard Avedon.  His iconic images capture the beauty, fragility, vulnerability, and life of his subjects that very few other photographers have the ability to express.

 

NAME: Richard Avedon
OCCUPATION: Photographer
BIRTH DATE: May 15, 1923
DEATH DATE: October 01, 2004
EDUCATION: DeWitt Clinton High School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: San Antonio, Texas

Best Known For:  American photographer Richard Avedon was best known for his work in the fashion world and for his minimalist, large-scale character-revealing portraits.

Richard Avedon was born on May 15, 1923 in New York City. His mother, Anna Avedon, came from a family of dress manufacturers, and his father, Jacob Israel Avedon, owned a clothing store called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. Inspired by his parents’ clothing businesses, as a boy Avedon took a great interest in fashion, especially enjoying photographing the clothes in his father’s store. At the age of 12, he joined the YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association) Camera Club.

Avedon later described one childhood moment in particular as helping to kindle his interest in fashion photography: “One evening my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue looking at the store windows,” he remembered. “In front of the Plaza Hotel, I saw a bald man with a camera posing a very beautiful woman against a tree. He lifted his head, adjusted her dress a little bit and took some photographs. Later, I saw the picture in Harper’s Bazaar. I didn’t understand why he’d taken her against that tree until I got to Paris a few years later: the tree in front of the Plaza had that same peeling bark you see all over the Champs-Elysees.”

Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City, where one of his classmates and closest friends was the great writer James Baldwin. In addition to his continued interest in fashion and photography, in high school Avedon also developed an affinity for poetry. He and Baldwin served as co-editors of the school’s prestigious literary magazine, The Magpie, and during his senior year, in 1941, Avedon was named “Poet Laureate of New York City High Schools.” After graduating that summer, Avedon enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry. However, he dropped out after only one year to serve in the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. As a Photographer’s Mate Second Class, his main duty was taking identification portraits of sailors. Avedon served in the Merchant Marine for two years, from 1942 to 1944.

Upon leaving the Merchant Marine in 1944, Avedon attended the New School for Social Research in New York City to study photography under Alexey Brodovitch, the acclaimed art director of Harper’s Bazaar. Avedon and Brodovitch formed a close bond, and within one year Avedon was hired as a staff photographer for the magazine. After several years photographing daily life in New York City, Avedon was assigned to cover the spring and fall fashion collections in Paris. While legendary editor Carmel Snow covered the runway shows, Avedon’s task was to stage photographs of models wearing the new fashions out in the city itself. Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s he created elegant black-and-white photographs showcasing the latest fashions in real-life settings such as Paris’s picturesque cafes, cabarets and streetcars.

Already established as one of the most talented young fashion photographers in the business, in 1955 Avedon made fashion and photography history when he staged a photo shoot at a circus. The iconic photograph of that shoot, “Dovima with Elephants,” features the most famous model of the time in a black Dior evening gown with a long white silk sash. She is posed between two elephants,  her back serenely arched as she holds on to the trunk of one elephant while reaching out fondly toward the other. The image remains one of the most strikingly original and iconic fashion photographs of all time. “He asked me to do extraordinary things,” Dovima said of Avedon. “But I always knew I was going to be part of a great picture.”

Avedon served as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar for 20 years, from 1945 to 1965. In addition to his fashion photography, he was also well known for his portraiture. His black-and-white portraits were remarkable for capturing the essential humanity and vulnerability lurking in such larger-than-life figures as President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. During the 1960s, Avedon also expanded into more explicitly political photography. He did portraits of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Julian Bond, as well as segregationists such as Alabama Governor George Wallace, and ordinary people involved in demonstrations. In 1969, he shot a series of Vietnam War portraits that included the Chicago Seven, American soldiers and Vietnamese napalm victims.

Avedon left Harper’s Bazaar in 1965, and from 1966 to 1990 he worked as a photographer for Vogue, its chief rival among American fashion magazines. He continued to push the boundaries of fashion photography with surreal, provocative and often controversial pictures in which nudity, violence and death featured prominently. He also continued to take illuminating portraits of leading cultural and political figures, ranging from Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison to Hillary Clinton. In addition to his work for Vogue, Avedon was also a driving force behind photography’s emergence as a legitimate art form during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. In 1959 he published a book of photographs, Observations, featuring commentary by Truman Capote, and in 1964 he published Nothing Personal, another collection of photographs, with an essay by his old friend James Baldwin.

In 1974 Avedon’s photographs of his terminally ill father were featured at the Museum of Modern Art, and the next year a selection of his portraits was displayed at the Marlborough Gallery. In 1977, a retrospective collection of his photographs, “Richard Avedon: Photographs 1947-1977,” was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before beginning an international tour of many of the world’s most famous museums. As one of the first self-consciously artistic commercial photographers, Avedon played a large role in defining the artistic purpose and possibilities of the genre.

“The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion,” he once said. “There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”

Richard Avedon married a model named Dorcas Nowell in 1944, and they remained married for six years before parting ways in 1950. In 1951, he married a woman named Evelyn Franklin; they had one son, John, before they also divorced.

In 1992,  Avedon became the first staff photographer in the history of The New Yorker. “I’ve photographed just about everyone in the world,” he said at the time. “But what I hope to do is photograph people of accomplishment, not celebrity, and help define the difference once again.” His last project for The New Yorker, which remained unfinished, was a portfolio entitled “Democracy” that included portraits of political leaders such as Karl Rove and John Kerry as well as ordinary citizens engaged in political and social activism.

Richard Avedon passed away on October 1, 2004, while on assignment for The New Yorker in San Antonio, Texas. He was 81 years old.

One of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, Richard Avedon expanded the genre of photography with his surreal and provocative fashion photography as well as portraits that bared the souls of some of the most important and opaque figures in the world. Avedon was such a predominant cultural force that he inspired the classic 1957 film Funny Face, in which Fred Astaire’s character is based on Avedon’s life. While much has been and continues to be written about Avedon, he always believed that the story of his life was best told through his photographs. Avedon said, “Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me. My concern is… the human predicament; only what I consider the human predicament may simply be my own.”

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Happy Birthday Clark Gable

Today is the 113rd birthday of one of the greatest actors of the golden age of Hollywood:  Clark Gable.  Do yourself a favor and watch one of his movies soon, if you can’t decide which one, watch “The Misfits.”  It was written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston and also stars Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach.  “The Misfits” was the final screen appearance of both Gable and Monroe.

NAME: Clark Gable
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 01, 1901
DEATH DATE: November 16, 1960
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cadiz, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
Full Name: William Clark Gable
AKA: Clark Gable

Best Known For:  Dubbed “King of Hollywood,” Gone with the Wind actor Clark Gable epitomized Hollywood’s Golden Age, and was a legend for his on- and off-screen romances.

William Clark Gable was born February 1, 1901, in Cadiz, Ohio. His father was an oil driller and farmer; his mother died when he was an infant.

Gable dropped out of high school at 16 and went to work at a tire factory in Akron, Ohio. One evening he saw a play and enjoyed it so much that he decided to become an actor. He tried to work his way in by taking an unpaid job with a theater company, but his dream was temporarily derailed when his stepmother died in 1919 and he went to help his father in the oilfields of Oklahoma.

After three years there, he joined a traveling theater company, which quickly went bankrupt, leaving Gable stranded in Montana. He hitchhiked to Oregon and joined another company, where he met Josephine Dillon, the theater manager. Dillon, a former actress and respected theater teacher 17 years his senior, took an interest in Gable. She became his acting coach and paid to have his teeth fixed and his hair and eyebrows styled. Before long they were married, and Gable and Dillon moved to Hollywood, California.

Gable worked as an extra in Hollywood before turning his attention to the theater, first in traveling productions and then in the Broadway play Machinal, for which he got good reviews. After it wrapped, he returned back to California and appeared in a stage production of The Last Mile.

Back in Hollywood, Gable was rejected at screen tests because casting agents thought his ears were too big for a leading man. He managed to land his first speaking role in a movie in The Painted Desert in 1931, and after seeing him on the big screen, MGM offered him a contract. His first leading role was in Dance, Fools, Dance, with Joan Crawford. Gable was a hit, and the studio began casting him as a roughneck villain opposite starlets including Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. By year’s end, he had made a dozen films and launched his career as a leading man. Ultimately, though, he became sick of playing the bad guy and made his displeasure known.

During the filming of Dancing Lady in 1933, Gable developed pyorrhea, an infection in his gums that required immediate removal of nearly all his teeth. The infection spread through his body and reached his gallbladder, and he was hospitalized. Because of delays in filming and necessary reshoots due to Gable’s illness, the film ran $150,000 over budget. When he returned to work, MGM loaned him to the then-low-budget Columbia Pictures for a Frank Capra comedy, It Happened One Night. It was widely rumored to have been punishment for either his bad attitude about his parts or the difficulty in shooting his last film, but in truth, MGM simply didn’t have a project for him. He ended up winning an Academy Award for It Happened One Night, and having shown his range, began being cast in a wider variety of roles.

By now, Gable was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and he churned out a series of successful movies like Boomtown, San Francisco and Mutiny on the Bounty. In 1939 he appeared as Rhett Butler in his best-known film, the civil-war epic Gone with the Wind. He was dubbed the “King of Hollywood,” and was a symbol of masculinity, admired by men and adored by women.

Then, during filming of Somewhere I’ll Find You with Lana Turner in 1942, tragedy struck. Carole Lombard, Gable’s third wife and the love of his life, died in a plane crash. He was devastated. Disconsolate, he enlisted in the Army Air Force at age 41. He served as a tail-gunner on five bombing missions over Germany and made a propaganda film for the Army.

After his discharge in 1944, he returned to the big screen in Adventure. Though it was a lackluster flick, Gable’s return to film had people flocking to the box office. He continued to make movies with MGM, including Mogambo with Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, but his career never regained the same momentum. Still, when his studio contract expired in 1954, he became the highest-paid freelance actor of his day.

Gable’s status as a legend carried him, and he consistently made at least one movie a year, most notably Soldier of Fortune and The Tall Men. He gave what is considered to be one of his finest performances in The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift, but he never got to enjoy its success: Two days after they completed filming, Clark Gable suffered a heart attack. He died November 16, 1960.

Gable was a ladies’ man both on and off screen, and he was married five times over the course of his life. His wives included his first theater director Josephine Dillon, socialite Rhea Langham, actress Carole Lombard, Lady Sylvia Ashley and actress Kay Williams Spreckels. Spreckels and Gable had one son, John Clark Gable, who was born after Gable’s death.

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Happy Birthday Carol Channing

Today is the 93rd birthday of Seattle’s very own Carol Channing.  Do yourself a favor and watch the 1967 version of “Thoroughly Modern Milly” sometime, it is brilliant and Carol rips through every scene she has.

NAME: Carol Channing
OCCUPATION: Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1921
PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle, Washington

BEST KNOWN FOR: Carol Channing starred as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on Broadway in 1949. She received a Tony lifetime achievement award in 1995.

Born January 31, 1921 in Seattle, Washington. The daughter of a prominent newspaper editor who was very active in the Christian Science movement, Channing attended high school in San Francisco before enrolling at Bennington College in Vermont. She majored in drama and dance for one year before dropping out to try her luck as an actress in New York.

andrews-channing-moore

Channing made her Broadway debut in 1941′s Never Take No for an Answer. With her megawatt wide-eyed grin and raspy voice, Channing made a name for herself in 1949 when she starred as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was in this role that she immortalized the anthem Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Though she lost the Lorelei Lee role to Marilyn Monroe in the 1952 film version, she remained active in nightclub and review appearances throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

Her next Broadway hit did not arrive until 1963, when she landed the role of Dolly Gallegher Levi in the blockbuster musical Hello, Dolly!. She won a Tony Award for her performance, but again forfeited the on-screen role to a young Barbra Streisand. In 1966, Channing was awarded an Emmy for the 1966 TV special An Evening With Carol Channing, and received an Oscar nod for her supporting performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Channing has lent her signature voice to animated films, including Shinbone Alley, Happily Ever After and Thumbelina. She has also supplied voices for the animated television series Where’s Waldo?, The Addams Family and The Magic School Bus. In 1995, Channing was honored at the Tony Awards with a lifetime achievement award.

Channing was married to Charles Lowe from 1956 until his death in 1999. She married her junior high school sweetheart, Harry Kullijian, at the age of 82 in 2003.

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Happy Birthday Cecil Beaton

Today is the 110th birthday of Cecil Beaton.  He could evoke every emotion with his camera.  His photographs are as breathtaking as they were the day they were taken and you feel like you are are part of them, you can feel the love, the sorrow, the loss, the opulence.  The world is a better place because of Cecil Beaton.

Born: January 14, 1904, London
Died: January 18, 1980, Broad Chalke
Parents: Etty Sissons, Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton
Education: St John’s College, Cambridge, Harrow School
Awards: Academy Award for Costume Design, Academy Award for Best Art Direction

Best Known ForSir Cecil Beaton was an English fashion photographer. He was also a diarist, interior designer and Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer.

Sir Cecil Beaton was an English fashion photographer. As a child, he adored the picture postcards of society ladies that came with the the Sunday newspaper. In the 1920s, he was hired as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue, where he developed a unique style of posing sitters with unusual backgrounds. He was also a diarist, interior designer and Oscar-winning stage and costume designer.

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Happy Birthday Arthur Miller

This week is Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright Arthur Miller’s 98th birthday.  You have seen “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible.”  How could you have not seen some version?  You may know him without knowing you know him.  He is part of the collective American conscious.  His life is an amazing American story that needs to be remembered and admired.NAME: Arthur Miller
OCCUPATION: Playwright
BIRTH DATE: October 17, 1915
DEATH DATE: February 10, 2005
EDUCATION: University of Michigan
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Roxbury, Connecticut

BEST KNOWN FOR: Arthur Miller was an American playwright who combined social awareness with a concern for his characters’ inner lives, such as in his Death of a Salesman.

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Prince of Asturias Award, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.

Yesterday was his birthday, born in New York City (1915). His father was the wealthy owner of a coat factory, and the family had a large Manhattan apartment, a chauffeur, and a summer home at the beach. But the family lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929.

The family had to move to a poor section of Brooklyn called Gravesend, where few of the streets had been paved, and much of the neighborhood was full of vacant lots. They had been living on the sixth floor of a building on Central Park North, but they now moved into a six-room clapboard house, where Miller had to share a bedroom with his grandfather.
The neighborhood was also home to Arthur Miller’s uncle on his mother’s side, Manny Newman, who would captivate Miller’s imagination for years. Uncle Manny was a salesman, and he was a big talker, full of schemes and hope for the future, even though he struggled to make ends meet.

miller-huston-misfits

Miller got involved in drama as a college student when he decided to enter a playwriting contest and managed to win the first prize with the first play he’d ever written. His first big success was his play All My Sons (1947), and just before the Broadway premiere, Miller went to an advance performance of the play in Boston. He was standing outside the theater when he looked up and saw that one of the people leaving the auditorium was his uncle Manny, whom he hadn’t seen in years. He realized right away that Manny must have been on a business trip to Boston and had come to the play on a whim. Miller said, “I could see his grim hotel room behind him, the long trip up from New York in his little car, the hopeless hope of the day’s business.” They only spoke briefly, and all Manny had to say was that his son Buddy was doing well. A year later, Miller learned that his uncle Manny had committed suicide.

He decided that he had to write a play, based loosely on his uncle’s life. He tracked down Manny’s two sons, Buddy and Abby, and interviewed them about their father. Soon after those interviews, Miller set out to write his play in a tiny cabin in Connecticut.
The result was Death of a Salesman (1949). It’s the story of a salesman named Willy Loman and the last 24 hours of his life with his wife, Linda, and his sons, Biff and Happy. He comes home from a business trip, carrying a case of samples, and tells his wife that he decided to cut the trip short because he’s not feeling well. He spends the next day trying to figure out how to pay off his debts. In the end, he decides to kill himself in a car accident, in the hopes getting his family the insurance money.

The final scene of the play takes place at Willy Loman’s funeral, and one of the characters says, “For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that’s an earthquake. … A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”

All About Eve – Required Viewing

The first time I watched All About Eve, it was the actual 35 mm movie version at summer camp.  I sat on the floor of the Fine Arts building at Interlochen Center for the Arts and when I stood up, my hands were covered in charcoal pencil dust from the figure drawing class earlier that day.  I remember talking about it while the reels were changed and being excited to see what happened next.  It was one of those films that gave the viewer a glimpse behind the curtain of the entertainment business into how things really are.  It was fascinating.  None of the actors are slouches, even a super new Marilyn Monroe is brilliant.  If you haven’t seen All About Eve lately, make a date to catch up with it, you won’t be disappointed.

All About Eve

The Wiki:

All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the 1946 short story “The Wisdom of Eve”, by Mary Orr.

The film stars Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a highly regarded but aging Broadway star. Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, a willingly helpful young fan who insinuates herself into Channing’s life, ultimately threatening Channing’s career and her personal relationships. George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Barbara Bates, Gary Merrill and Thelma Ritter also appear, and the film provided one of Marilyn Monroe‘s earliest important roles.

Praised by critics at the time of its release, All About Eve was nominated for 14 Academy Awards (a feat unmatched until the 1997 film Titanic) and won six, including Best Picture. As of 2013, All About Eve is still the only film in Oscar history to receive four female acting nominations (Davis and Baxter as Best Actress, Holm and Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). All About Eve was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered. All About Eve appeared at #16 on AFI’s 1998 list of the 100 best American films.

Richard Avedon – Style Icon

 

NAME: Richard Avedon
OCCUPATION: Photographer
BIRTH DATE: May 15, 1923
DEATH DATE: October 01, 2004
EDUCATION: DeWitt Clinton High School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: San Antonio, Texas

Best Known For:  American photographer Richard Avedon was best known for his work in the fashion world and for his minimalist, large-scale character-revealing portraits.

Richard Avedon was born on May 15, 1923 in New York City. His mother, Anna Avedon, came from a family of dress manufacturers, and his father, Jacob Israel Avedon, owned a clothing store called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. Inspired by his parents’ clothing businesses, as a boy Avedon took a great interest in fashion, especially enjoying photographing the clothes in his father’s store. At the age of 12, he joined the YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association) Camera Club.

Avedon later described one childhood moment in particular as helping to kindle his interest in fashion photography: “One evening my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue looking at the store windows,” he remembered. “In front of the Plaza Hotel, I saw a bald man with a camera posing a very beautiful woman against a tree. He lifted his head, adjusted her dress a little bit and took some photographs. Later, I saw the picture in Harper’s Bazaar. I didn’t understand why he’d taken her against that tree until I got to Paris a few years later: the tree in front of the Plaza had that same peeling bark you see all over the Champs-Elysees.”

Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City, where one of his classmates and closest friends was the great writer James Baldwin. In addition to his continued interest in fashion and photography, in high school Avedon also developed an affinity for poetry. He and Baldwin served as co-editors of the school’s prestigious literary magazine, The Magpie, and during his senior year, in 1941, Avedon was named “Poet Laureate of New York City High Schools.” After graduating that summer, Avedon enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry. However, he dropped out after only one year to serve in the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. As a Photographer’s Mate Second Class, his main duty was taking identification portraits of sailors. Avedon served in the Merchant Marine for two years, from 1942 to 1944.

Upon leaving the Merchant Marine in 1944, Avedon attended the New School for Social Research in New York City to study photography under Alexey Brodovitch, the acclaimed art director of Harper’s Bazaar. Avedon and Brodovitch formed a close bond, and within one year Avedon was hired as a staff photographer for the magazine. After several years photographing daily life in New York City, Avedon was assigned to cover the spring and fall fashion collections in Paris. While legendary editor Carmel Snow covered the runway shows, Avedon’s task was to stage photographs of models wearing the new fashions out in the city itself. Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s he created elegant black-and-white photographs showcasing the latest fashions in real-life settings such as Paris’s picturesque cafes, cabarets and streetcars.

Already established as one of the most talented young fashion photographers in the business, in 1955 Avedon made fashion and photography history when he staged a photo shoot at a circus. The iconic photograph of that shoot, “Dovima with Elephants,” features the most famous model of the time in a black Dior evening gown with a long white silk sash. She is posed between two elephants,  her back serenely arched as she holds on to the trunk of one elephant while reaching out fondly toward the other. The image remains one of the most strikingly original and iconic fashion photographs of all time. “He asked me to do extraordinary things,” Dovima said of Avedon. “But I always knew I was going to be part of a great picture.”

Avedon served as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar for 20 years, from 1945 to 1965. In addition to his fashion photography, he was also well known for his portraiture. His black-and-white portraits were remarkable for capturing the essential humanity and vulnerability lurking in such larger-than-life figures as President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. During the 1960s, Avedon also expanded into more explicitly political photography. He did portraits of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Julian Bond, as well as segregationists such as Alabama Governor George Wallace, and ordinary people involved in demonstrations. In 1969, he shot a series of Vietnam War portraits that included the Chicago Seven, American soldiers and Vietnamese napalm victims.

Avedon left Harper’s Bazaar in 1965, and from 1966 to 1990 he worked as a photographer for Vogue, its chief rival among American fashion magazines. He continued to push the boundaries of fashion photography with surreal, provocative and often controversial pictures in which nudity, violence and death featured prominently. He also continued to take illuminating portraits of leading cultural and political figures, ranging from Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison to Hillary Clinton. In addition to his work for Vogue, Avedon was also a driving force behind photography’s emergence as a legitimate art form during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. In 1959 he published a book of photographs, Observations, featuring commentary by Truman Capote, and in 1964 he published Nothing Personal, another collection of photographs, with an essay by his old friend James Baldwin.

In 1974 Avedon’s photographs of his terminally ill father were featured at the Museum of Modern Art, and the next year a selection of his portraits was displayed at the Marlborough Gallery. In 1977, a retrospective collection of his photographs, “Richard Avedon: Photographs 1947-1977,” was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before beginning an international tour of many of the world’s most famous museums. As one of the first self-consciously artistic commercial photographers, Avedon played a large role in defining the artistic purpose and possibilities of the genre.

“The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion,” he once said. “There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”

Richard Avedon married a model named Dorcas Nowell in 1944, and they remained married for six years before parting ways in 1950. In 1951, he married a woman named Evelyn Franklin; they had one son, John, before they also divorced.

In 1992,  Avedon became the first staff photographer in the history of The New Yorker. “I’ve photographed just about everyone in the world,” he said at the time. “But what I hope to do is photograph people of accomplishment, not celebrity, and help define the difference once again.” His last project for The New Yorker, which remained unfinished, was a portfolio entitled “Democracy” that included portraits of political leaders such as Karl Rove and John Kerry as well as ordinary citizens engaged in political and social activism.

Richard Avedon passed away on October 1, 2004, while on assignment for The New Yorker in San Antonio, Texas. He was 81 years old.

One of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, Richard Avedon expanded the genre of photography with his surreal and provocative fashion photography as well as portraits that bared the souls of some of the most important and opaque figures in the world. Avedon was such a predominant cultural force that he inspired the classic 1957 film Funny Face, in which Fred Astaire’s character is based on Avedon’s life. While much has been and continues to be written about Avedon, he always believed that the story of his life was best told through his photographs. Avedon said, “Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me. My concern is… the human predicament; only what I consider the human predicament may simply be my own.”

Fragments

“Only parts of us will ever touch only parts of others.”

Did you ever begin Ulysses? Did you ever finish it? Marilyn Monroe did both. She took great pains to be photographed reading or holding a book — insistence born not out vain affectation but of a genuine love of literature. Her personal library contained four hundred books, including classics like Dostoyevsky and Milton, and modern staples like Hemingway and Kerouac. While she wasn’t shooting, she was taking literature and history night classes at UCLA. And yet, the public image of a breezy, bubbly blonde endures as a caricature of Monroe’s character, standing in stark contrast with whatever deep-seated demons led her to take her own life.

But her private poetry — fragmentary, poem-like texts scribbled in notebooks and on loose-leaf paper, published for the first time in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters (public library) — reveal a complex, sensitive being who peered deeply into her own psyche and thought intensely about the world and other people. What these texts bespeak, above all, is the tragic disconnect between a highly visible public persona and a highly vulnerable private person, misunderstood by the world, longing to be truly seen.

Only parts of us will ever
touch only parts of others –
one’s own truth is just that really — one’s own truth.
We can only share the part that is understood by within another’s knowing acceptable to
the other — therefore
so one
is for most part alone.
As it is meant to be in
evidently in nature — at best though perhaps it could make
our understanding seek
another’s loneliness out.

Life –
I am of both of your directions
Life
Somehow remaining hanging downward
the most
but strong as a cobweb in the
wind — I exist more with the cold glistening frost.
But my beaded rays have the colors I’ve
seen in a paintings — ah life they
have cheated you

Oh damn I wish that I were
dead — absolutely nonexistent –
gone away from here — from
everywhere but how would I do it
There is always bridges — the Brooklyn
bridge
– no not the Brooklyn Bridge
because
But I love that bridge (everything is beautiful from there and the air is so clean) walking it seems
peaceful there even with all those
cars going crazy underneath. So
it would have to be some other bridge
an ugly one and with no view — except
I particularly like in particular all bridges — there’s some-
thing about them and besides these I’ve
never seen an ugly bridge

Stones on the walk
every color there is
I stare down at you
like these the a horizon –
the space / the air is between us beckoning
and I am many stories besides up
my feet are frightened
from my as I grasp for towards you

Beyond her poems, the rest of Monroe’s intimate thoughts collected in Fragments are equally soul-stirring. Writing in her famous Record notebook in 1955, she echoes Kerouac’s famous line, “No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge”:

feel what I feel
within myself — that is trying to
become aware of it
also what I feel in others
not being ashamed of my feeling, thoughts — or ideas

realize the thing that
they are –

In her 1955-1956 Italian diary engraved in green, she writes:

I’m finding that sincerity
and trying to be as simple or direct as (possible) I’d like
is often taken for sheer stupidity
but since it is not a sincere world –
it’s very probable that being sincere is stupid.
One probably is stupid to
be sincere since it’s in this world
and no other world that we know
for sure we exist — meaning that –
(since reality exists it should be must be dealt should be met and dealt with)
since there is reality to deal with

In 1956, Monroe traveled to London to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl. She stayed at the Parkside House, a luxurious manor outside the city, and used the hotel stationery for her thoughts:

To have your heart is
the only completely happy proud possession thing (that ever belonged
to me) I’ve ever possessed so

I guess I have always been
deeply terrified at to really be someone’s
wife
since I know life
one cannot love another,
ever, really

Some of her undated notes live between the discipline of the to-do list and the expansive contemplation of philosophy:

for life
It is rather a determination not to be overwhelmed

for work
The truth can only be recalled, never invented

Tender, tortured, thoughtful, the texts in Fragments hint at what Brooklyn-based novelist Arthur Miller, whom Monroe eventually married, must have meant when he said that she “had the instinct and reflexes of the poet, but she lacked the control.”

Lauren Bacall – Style Icon

NAME: Lauren Bacall
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: September 16, 1924 (Age: 87)
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
ORIGINALLY: Betty Joan Perske

BEST KNOWN FOR: Lauren Bacall is an American actress known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks. She is best remembered for portrayals of provocative women.

Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske, September 16, 1924) is an American film and stage actress and model, known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks.

She first emerged as leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not (1944) and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in Bogart movies The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), as well as a comedienne in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck. Bacall has also worked on Broadway in musicals, gaining a Tony Awards for Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. Her performance in the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.

In 1999, Bacall was ranked #20 of the 25 actresses on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars list by the American Film Institute. In 2009, she was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Academy Honorary Award “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”

She campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential election and for Robert Kennedy in his 1964 run for Senate.

In a 2005 interview with Larry King, Bacall described herself as “anti-Republican… A liberal. The L-word.” She went on to say that “being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind.”