|Gagosian London is glad to present the first major exhibition to pair works by Richard Avedon and Andy Warhol. Both artists rose to prominence during postwar America with parallel artistic output. Their most memorable images, produced in response to changing cultural mores, have become icons of the twentieth century.
Portraiture was a shared theme of both artists, and they made use of repetition and serialization: Avedon through the reproducible medium of photography, and in his group photographs, where he positioned, collaged, and reordered images; Warhol in his method of stacked screenprinting, which enabled the consistent reproduction of an image. Avedon and Warhol variously depict many of the same iconic faces, including Marella Agnelli, Bianca Jagger, Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Rudolf Nureyev.
Both Avedon and Warhol originated from modest beginnings and had a great commercial success working for major magazines in New York, beginning in the 1940s. The 1960s marked artistic turning points for both of them as they moved away from strictly commercial work towards their mature independent styles. The works in the exhibition, which date from the 1950s through the 1990s, emphasize such common themes as social and political power; the evolving acceptance of cultural differences; the inevitability of mortality; and the glamour and despair of celebrity.
Both artists sought out individuals who were outside, as well as inside, the mainstream. For Avedon, this resulted in the larger-than-lifesize mural of Andy Warhol and members of The Factory (1969), who represented the heart of New York subculture and incarnated the sexual and cultural revolution. Meanwhile, Warhol memorialized the beauty of drag queens in his pioneering series of silkscreens.
|Each gallery of the exhibition focuses one a theme going from meditation on the darker side of human existence, to celebrity which was a topic that was equally explored by both artists: Avedon in his iconic images of Brigitte Bardot (1959) and Audrey Hepburn (1967); and Warhol in his dramatically rendered superstars, such as Double Elvis (1963) and Four Marilyns (Reversal Series) (1986). Driven by their cosmopolitan awareness and mindfulness of the potential for their work to stir change, as well as their diverse cast of modern muses, Avedon and Warhol harnessed the power of images to reflect the revolutionary social attitudes of their time.