We’re guilty these days of playing fast and loose with the word ‘iconic’ but the American photographer Richard Avedon, who died in 2004, genuinely deserves that accolade. This show is a capsule collection of Avedon’s female fashion photography from the 1960s and ’70s. The photographs – all black-and-white – show models and their clothes frozen in exquisitely graceful motion.
Today, this type of imagery appears frequently in fashion magazines but Avedon was a pioneer, fighting against the standard of static models. Verushka, the world’s first supermodel, seems almost to hover above the ground en pointe, her improbably long legs appearing even longer as her dress parachutes around her. Jean Shrimpton runs barefoot out of the frame, Penelope Tree joyfully leaps with jazz hands and Twiggy sinks as her luxuriant mane of hair defies gravity.
Prior to his death, Avedon left detailed specifications as to how his work should be framed and hung. Gagosian have worked with the same framer that Avedon used. The result is a striking and visually cohesive exhibition that would not be out of a place in a major museum.
The only criticism is that there are just 13 photographs on display. A bigger, career spanning show of Avedon’s female portraits will go on show at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills branch in November. This exhibition feels like a bit like a trailer but it’s well worth a visit for an exemplary fashion photography fix.
Christina is a barrister from Islington. She was selected to write this review as part of the Time Out Takeover – a special edition of the magazine written entirely by our readers.