Everyone is recognizable, either because you know who they are or because you’ve seen these portraits before.
At Avedon 100, there are people everywhere. In the photos, in the gallery (Gagosian on Twenty-First), and in texts that list who picked out which image, a cliquey curatorial move meant to suggest Avedon’s wide-ranging influence. There’s that famous photomural of many Marilyns—you’ve seen it—throwing her legs and arms and body around, dodging her own wingspan. Then, around the corner, sad Marilyn, an image taken during the same shoot, maybe once she’d gotten her jollies out and sank into the depths of depletion. Liz Taylor, her face framed by rooster feathers, chosen by Kim Kardashian; J. Robert Oppenheimer, gaze cast skyward, chosen by Jesuit priest James Martin. Bob Dylan, Truman Capote, Hillary Clinton, Gloria Vanderbilt. Avedon’s high school classmate and friend James Baldwin. Everyone is recognizable, either because you know who they are or because you’ve seen these portraits before. (Missing from this group is Bucky Fuller, the only “architect” Avedon ever shot, from what I can tell.) Together they amount to what the show’s title seems to hint at: his photographs virtually captured what we now think of as the twentieth century.