Richard Avedon’s Photography Shows Its Softer Side in a New Book

Richard Avedon’s Photography Shows Its Softer Side in a New Book


When Gianni Versace was a child, he stumbled upon one of the late photographer Richard Avedon’s most well-known images: Dovima With Elephants, which portrayed the American supermodel in a Dior gown delicately holding onto the animal’s trunk and ear. The picture enraptured the designer so much that Avedon became a favorite photographer of his—and they would go on to have a 20-year collaboration with one another.

Now, the Versace brand is teaming with Avedon once more—this time, for a book titled Richard Avedon, Relationships, out March 14 by the publishing house SKIRA, in collaboration with the Center for Creative Photography and The Richard Avedon Foundation. Avedon may be known as one of the founding fathers of modern fashion photography—but you’ve never seen his works like this. In Relationships, the celebrated portraitist’s most famed pieces are featured alongside lesser-known images: take, for example, the portrait of Penelope Tree wearing an Ungaro mask; or an arty, blurred image of Malcolm X. The tome is a tribute to the work of Avedon, who revolutionized editorial fashion shoots when he stopped portraying models in static poses, favoring instead to show them in more realistic environments. Within the pages of this book, you’ll find portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, and many more iconic faces of the 20th century—most of whom were photographed multiple times at different periods throughout Avedon’s career. Below, a selection of iconic photographs from the book—and their lesser-known counterparts.

Richard Avedon, Carmen (Homage to Munkácsi), August 1957. The model wears a coat by Pierre Cardin, and was photographed at Place François Premiere square in Paris.

Richard Avedon, Jean Shrimpton, January 1970. Shrimpton wears an evening dress by Cardin.

Richard Avedon, John Lennon, August 11, 1967. Photographed in London.

Richard Avedon, Dovima With Elephants, August 1955. Dovima wears an evening dress by Dior, and was photographed at Cirque d’Hiver in Paris.

Richard Avedon, Malcolm X, March 27, 1963. Photographed in New York.

Richard Avedon, Nastassja Kinski, June 14, 1981. Photographed in Los Angeles.

Richard Avedon, Penelope Tree, January 1968. Tree wears a mask by Emanuel Ungaro and was photographed at Avedon’s Paris studio.

Richard Avedon, Shoe by Perugia, August 1948. Place du Trocadéro, Paris.

Richard Avedon, Self Portrait, August 20, 1980. Photographed in Provo, Utah.