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CELEBRATING AVEDON: Five books, three shows, a catalogue of the archives — The Richard Avedon Foundation has been busy since the famed photographer’s death in 2004. And at Christie’s Paris on Nov. 20, the foundation will auction 60 works — the largest group to come to market — to endow philanthropy supporting photography.
The sale’s centerpiece is an enormous print of the “Dovima With Elephants” (1955), which hung in Avedon’s studio for 30 years. The iconic shot of the willowy model in a Dior evening gown and bracketed by circus pachyderms is expected to fetch a half-million of the group’s $4 million to $6 million estimate. Also on offer: shots of Veruschka, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.
But fans don’t need to hop a flight to Paris for an Avedon fix. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is running “Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000” (through Jan. 17), the first retrospective focused solely on his fashion work since 1978. (He being a portraitist at heart, Avedon’s shots aren’t really about the clothes, but about the body underneath — celebrated or distorted by fabric.) A 1967 portrait of Audrey Hepburn in a black headdress elongates her neck, à la E.T. In 1998, he shot Carmen Kass and Audrey Marnay unrecognizably swathed in nappy, boiled wool by Hussein Chalayan. They look like cleverly sculpted topiaries or ancient statuaries toppling against each another.
Later in his career, Avedon created his extensive New Yorker portfolios and the Versace campaigns. A 1993 image features a nude Marcus Schenkenberg in the role of an abducting Greek god, tugging the hand of reluctant mortal Stephanie Seymour.