Richard Avedon: Nothing Personal at Pace/MacGill Gallery

Richard Avedon's Nothing Personal, denounced at the time of publication, is now considered a masterwork. Published in 1964, its message remains relevant more than a half-century later. Now is your chance to see why.

Richard Avedon: Nothing Personal at Pace/MacGill Gallery

Richard Avedon's Nothing Personal, denounced at the time of publication, is now considered a masterwork. Published in 1964, its message remains relevant more than a half-century later. Now is your chance to see why.

From November 17, 2017 through January 13, 2018, original photographs and archival material from Nothing Personal will be on display at Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery as they announce their representation of The Richard Avedon Foundation. It is the first comprehensive presentation of this period of Avedon's work and will be on view in the Chelsea gallery located at 537 West 24th Street. To coincide with the occasion, TASCHEN will republish a facsimile edition of Nothing Personal with an accompanying booklet containing a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als and rare and unpublished Avedon photographs.

Native New Yorkers Richard Avedon (1923-2004) and James Baldwin (1924-1987) met as students at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx in the late 1930s. They became friends while writing for and editing The Magpie, the school's literary magazine. Even as teenagers, they, in their writing, dealt with profound issues of race, mortality, and, as Avedon wrote, "the future of humanity" as World War II closed in on them.

In January of 1963, Avedon photographed Baldwin for a magazine assignment and suggested that they work on a book about life in America. Baldwin readily agreed. "This book," said Baldwin at the time, "examines some national and contemporary phenomena in an attempt to discover why we live the way we do. We are afflicted by an ignorance of our natures vaster and more dangerous than our ignorance of life on Mars."

Corresponding frequently with Baldwin, Avedon traveled extensively in 1963 and 1964 photographing portraits for the book while Baldwin wrote the essay. They met up periodically to share and discuss their progress. The collaboration resulted in some of Avedon's most pivotal portraiture of his middle career, from civil rights icons (Malcolm X) to staunch segregationists (George Wallace); to aging stars (Joe Louis) and young fame seekers (Fabian); to powerful politicians (Adam Clayton Powell) and ordinary citizens; to young idealists (Julian Bond) and elderly pacifists (Norman Thomas); to patients committed to a mental institution who seek love, comfort, and some semblance of consideration.

At the core of the photographs — almost all of which will be on view at Pace Gallery — is the question of how Americans understand race relations and their own identities, and, by extension, the identities and civil rights of others.

Richard Avedon, Members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee,
Atlanta, Georgia, March 1963 ©The Richard Avedon Foundation


"Both Avedon and Baldwin cared deeply about what was (or was not) going on in America in the early 1960s. It was an explosive time, not unlike the one we live in today. The events enveloping our country provoked Avedon's careful reflection and examination of the place and its people. There is a lot to learn from looking at this prophetic work and considering the very profound statement it makes." — Peter MacGill

Nothing Personal was originally designed by Marvin Israel and published by Atheneum in November of 1964 under the aegis of legendary editor Simon Michael Bessie. Nothing Personal is now recognized for its powerful message of a confused and often compromised society seeking fleeting moments of joy, grace and occasional redemption.

Richard Avedon was born in New York City in 1923 and joined the Young Men's Hebrew Association camera club at the age of 12. After serving as a Photographer's Mate Second Class in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, he began working as a freelance photographer, primarily for Harper's Bazaar, in 1944. Under the tutelage of Alexey Brodovitch, Avedon quickly became the magazine's lead photographer, while also creating formal portraits for many other sources, including his own portfolio.

First showcased in Edward Steichen's Family of Man exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1955, Avedon's work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. His first retrospective was held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. in 1962 and was followed by solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (1970), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1974), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (1985), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994), among others. Avedon was the first living photographer to receive two shows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1978 and 2002).

Avedon died while working on an assignment called "Democracy" for The New Yorker during the 2004 presidential election. During his lifetime, he established The Richard Avedon Foundation in New York City, which now houses his archive and works with curators and collectors around the world.



Pace/MacGill Gallery is proud to be a part of The Pace Gallery family, which includes The Pace Gallery, one of New York City's premier modern and contemporary art spaces; Pace Prints & Pace Master Prints, focusing on limited edition works on paper from the 15th to 21st centuries; and Pace Primitive, dedicated to African, Himalayan, Oceanic, and Native American tribal art. The synergism between Pace/MacGill's partners has allowed access to the most important private and institutional collectors around the world, as well as the opportunity to exhibit photography in the context of The Pace Gallery and its related venues.

The gallery employs an experienced staff that is compassionate to both the artists' and clients' needs, and knowledgeable within the medium of photography and beyond.

Peter MacGill has been active in the field of photography for nearly forty years and maintains close, personal relationships with virtually all of the medium's museum curators and directors around the world. MacGill states, "We seek to do our job as a gallery as well as our artists do theirs. They set the standard at the highest level possible and we try to follow suit."

The gallery is located at 32 East 57th Street, 9th floor, NYC 10022 and is open Tuesday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, Saturday, 10:00am - 6:00pm.