Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thirty-Five Unpublished Avedon Photographs In Private Album Surface

A collection of thirty-five unpublished photographs by the legendary Richard Avedon (1923-2004) of noted poet and playwright Aram Saroyan and family has made its debut into the marketplace. It has never publicly been seen before. It is one of only three that Avedon personally produced, and he destroyed the negatives to prevent any sort of reproduction.

The photographs, created and given away by Avedon in May 1977, were taken by the great photographer as an intmate memento of three days that Avedon spent with the Saroyans in Bolinas, CA, a small town in the San Francisco Bay area.

 Richard Avedon, 2004.

Only three sets of the photographs were made by Avedon and assembled into books. The books were then sent to the Saroyans as a surprise gift not too long after that three day visit.

 A sampler from Avedon's Saroyan family album.

One copy of the set is lost. The second remains with the Saroyan family. The negatives were destroyed. By this time in the photographer's career, his staff handled the post-shoot process. Here, it is highly probable that Avedon printed the photographs himself; this was a personal and not a professional, assignment, and it was actually not an assignment at all. It was a labor of love.

Aram Saroyan.              Photo by Gailyn Saroyan.

Avedon and Saroyan, the son of novelist William Saroyan, were close friends. They first met when Saroyan was a teenager - Aram Saroyan worked as an assistant to Avedon at the photographer's studio at 49th Street and Third Avenue in New York City beginning in 1956. Saroyan was present when Avedon shot many of his iconic photographs, including the session with Marilyn Monroe, a portrait of the actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

These photographs evoke a warmth, affection, and insouciance that is rarely, if ever, found in Avedon's fashion, civil rights, and portraiture work. That Avedon would occasionally take personal photographs and develop them himself is not a secret, though Avedon routinely suppressed this work, not wishing it to be associated with his professional endeavors at Avedon Studios. This was his private life from his camera's eye.

The album presents a marvelous association between one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century and a writer who was strongly shaped and influenced by him, not only as an artist, but as a friend, mentor, and confidant.

It is being offered by Royal Books of Baltimore, MD. The asking price is $110,000.

AVEDON, Richard. SAROYAN, Aram. A Collection of Thirty-Five Unpublished Photographs by Richard Avedon of Aram Saroyan and His Family. 35 (mostly) 10 1/4 x 7 inch silver gelatin prints, mounted on card stock. Bound into an oblong quarto orange morocco leather portfolio with gilt titles and rules, with matching marbled endpapers.

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