Rabbit Is Reference: Reviewing the Richard Avedon show

John Updike and his fictional legacy continue to be a part of American pop culture, the most recent case-in-point being a Washington Post review of a one-person show featuring fashion photographer Richard Avedon.

In “Review: An electrifying exhibit shows Richart Avedon at his most ambitious,” Sebastian Smee wrote, “The first of the ‘murals,’ as he called them, was a group portrait of Andy Warhol and 10 other members of the Factory. Avedon photographed the superstars in his studio over several weeks in the fall of 1969. Clustered together near the center of the image are five naked figures, one of them the transgender actress Candy Darling. The clothes crumpled on the floor at their feet feel oddly eloquent, legible both as statements of liberation and the shadows of their social selves. (I thought of Rabbit Angstrom, in John Updike’s ‘Rabbit, Run,’ enjoying, as he shed his clothes, the way ‘the flying cloth puts him at the center of a gathering nakedness.’) ‘You couldn’t keep the clothes on anybody in those years,’ Avedon later joked. ‘Before you could say “hello,” they were nude and ready to ride.’”

Avedon will be celebrated with “Avedon 100,” May 4-June 24, 2023 at Gagosian, 522 West 21st St., New York—an exhibition commemorating the centenary of Avedon’s birth featuring 150 “celebrated artists, designers, musicians, writers, curators, and fashion world representatives” and their favorite Avedon photographs.

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