Photography Faculty Presents Richard Avedon at the Smithsonian

Shannon Perich, history of photography faculty at MICA and curator of the Photographic History Collection at the National Museum of American History, recently presented (re) Framing Conversations: Photographs by Richard Avedon, 1946-1965, on view at the museum through fall.

The show includes twenty of the iconic photographer’s portraits — including Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Humphry Bogart, George Wallace, Malcolm X, and William Casby, a man born into slavery. Avedon’s work is organized to highlight events that shaped post-World War II American culture, from the Civil Rights movement to McCarthyism, and though the images are of individuals, each speaks to broader events of their time. They underscore themes of racism and sexism, as well as religion’s influence on society — and remind us that these issues continue to impact contemporary society.

Perich, who curated artifacts from nearly a thousand pieces of Avedon’s work in the museum’s collection, said she took the words of essayist and playwright James Baldwin to heart when organizing the exhibition: “It doesn’t do any good to blame the people or the time — one is oneself all those people. We are the time.”

For more information, read more at Smithsonian Magazine.