American Richard Avedon was born on May 15, 1923 in New York City. His mother, Anna Avedon, came from a family of garment manufacturers and his father owned a clothing shop called Avedon Fifth Avenue. Avedon was heavily inspired by his parents' clothing companies and during his childhood he developed a strong interest in fashion. Avedon photographed the clothes in his father's shop, and at age 12 he joined the Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) Camera Club.
Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City where, in addition to fashion and photography, he was interested in poetry. After graduating from high school in 1941 Avedon was admitted to Columbia University, where he studied philosophy and poetry, but after only one year he dropped out to serve in the US Merchant Marine during World War II. For two years, 1942-1944, Avedon worked for the Merchant Marine, where his main task was to take ID photos of the sailors.
After his time in the Merchant Marine Avedon began at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he studied photography under Alexey Brodovitch, artistic director of the fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar. Avedon and Brodovitch quickly became close friends and Avedon was hired as a photographer for the magazine. After working at the magazine for a while, Avedon was assigned the task of covering the fall and spring collections in Paris, together with colleague Carmel Snow. Avedon’s job was to take photos of the models wearing the latest fashions out in the city. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Avedon took elegant, playful and spontaneous black and white photographs that showed off the latest fashions.
In 1955 Avedon made fashion and photographic history by taking the iconic photograph “Dovima with Elephants” depicting the era's most famous model wearing a black evening dress by Dior, posing by two elephants from the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris.
After his 20-year career at Harper's Bazaar, Avedon began working as a photographer for Vogue, where he stayed until 1990. Avedon then went on to work as a photographer for the magazine The New Yorker, where he worked until his death on October 1, 2004, at the age of 81.
Erotic art holds an uneasy place in the art world. Cultural institutions featuring graphic depictions of exposed genitalia and copulating couples are cordoned off by signage, alerting the faint of heart to the steamy scenes lying ahead. Why?