Richard Avedon's striking images of some of the world's greatest stars remain iconic to this day. He combined a sense of drama with a stripped-down style that captured a true sense of his subject's personality, from Marilyn Monroe to Malcolm X, and strongly influenced the world of fashion photography through his work with Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.
For the first time this Saturday (November 20) Christie's and the Avedon Foundation, established after his death in 2004, will be selling work from his incredible archive at a unique auction in Paris and for art collectors it could prove a great chance to invest in the emerging photography market.
The exhibition is expected to raise over $3.7m - $6m and is the largest collection of his work to ever be sold, comprising more than 60 photographs. Amongst them are some of his most celebrated subjects, including many that should hold great interest for memorabilia collectors too.
Taken at the height of their fame in 1967, Avedon's psychedelic portraits of the Beatles remain some of their most famous. Reproduced in posters on bedroom walls around the world, Avedon only created nine editions of the portfolio of four photographs. One of these broke the record for Avedon's work in 2005, selling for $464,000 at Christie's. The current one has an estimated price of $300,000 - $500,000, and looks set to break this record once more.
This intimate portrait of Monroe has an estimated price of
$100,000 - $150,000
Another of the highlights is a small portrait of Marilyn Monroe, looking unusually pensive in a sequined gown. Priced at $100,000 - $150,000 his image captures something of her fragile character that goes beyond her screen persona, and as recent sales have seen collectors are prepared to pay top prices for a unique piece of Monroe memorabilia.
The star of the sale however looks to be the largest ever print of his famous 'Dovima with elephants' a striking image that captures the essence of Avedon's dramatic yet playful style. Taken in Paris in 1955, the exhibition-sized image has an estimate of $500,000 - $700,000 and was for 20 years the print that greeted visitors to his studio in New York.
Recent auctions of the work by Diane Arbus and William Eggleston have seen huge interest from collectors, and the market for photography is a steadily growing one. As we said earlier this year however it could still have a long way to go, as more and more collectors choose to put their money into alternative investments. For anyone with a love of photography it could be the perfect chance to invest in your passion, which can be rewarding in more ways than one.
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