Israel Museum Receives Richard Avedon Works

Photography collection includes 'The Family,’ a series of 69 portraits of prominent Americans for a 1976 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine marking America’s bicentennial.

A group of public and private art collectors have donated original works by photographer Richard Avedon to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The donation was an initiative by Leonard Lauder, the president of the American Contemporary Art Foundation; Larry Gagosian, the owner of the Gagosian Gallery chain of art galleries; and the Richard Avedon Foundation

When Lauder found out the Israel Museum had no works by Avedon, he asked Gagosian, and an Avedon Foundation representative to help him address the conspicuous lack in the museum’s 75,000 strong photography collection. Their eventual gifts were Avedon photographs taken between 1969 and 1976 including a large photographic mural entitled “Allen Ginsberg’s family, Patterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970,” four smaller murals of Andy Warhol and the members of The Factory, the Chicago Seven, America’s Vietnam War generals, and a smaller photograph of Allen Ginsberg and his family. But the main prize is “The Family,” a series of 69 portraits of prominent Americans for a 1976 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine marking America’s bicentennial. The series features, for example, a young Donald Rumsfeld, during his first term as defense secretary.

Richard Avedon (1923–2004), who was born in New York to a Russian Jewish family, is widely considered major figure in the development of photography during the 20th century. In tandem with his work as a commercial and fashion photographer, during the 1960s he began photographing prominent political events such as the Vietnam War, the African American Civil Rights Movement and later on, the fall of the Berlin Wall. His works are on exhibit at the world’s best museums. He delved into philanthropy establishing the Richard Avedon Foundation.

In 2010, auction house Christie’s sold one of his works for $1.1 million, and in 2011 the Gagosian Gallery announced that it would represent him. “Richard Avedon’s work has been a personal passion of mine since I first saw his large-scale murals and showed his work in my Los Angeles gallery in the mid-1970s,” Gagosian said. “Avedon profoundly impacted 20th-century portraiture, and his influence continues to reverberate today. I am delighted to play a role in ensuring that a significant body of his work now enters one of the world’s renowned museum collections.”

The Israel Museum has decided to show selected works from the collection only next year in an exhibit set up by the new curator of photography, Noam Gal.

Richard Avedon