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Lauder, Gagosian, and Avedon Foundation collaborate to donate 74 works by Richard Avedon
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C., May 7, 1976, from The Family, Rolling Stone Portfolio, 1976. Printed 1976. Silver gelatin print, 14 x 11 inches. Edition of 25 © The Richard Avedon Foundation.

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, today announced the gift of a cohesive body of portraiture by Richard Avedon—totaling 74 photographs created between 1969 and 1976—through the collaboration of three donors. The unprecedented gift was initiated by Leonard Lauder, who upon learning that Avedon’s work was not represented in the Israel Museum’s collection, invited the Richard Avedon Foundation and Larry Gagosian—whose gallery represents the Foundation—to join him in ensuring that the photographer’s work would be properly reflected within the Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. This joint gift will be on view at the Israel Museum in spring 2014 as part of its Focus on the Collection exhibition series and builds on the Museum’s 50-year history of collecting photography, further distinguishing it as one of the world’s leading holdings with more than 75,000 images.

The gift consists of:

•Avedon’s iconic 20 x 8 foot photographic mural Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970 (printed 1993), given by Leonard A. Lauder through his foundation The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc.

•A complete set of the artist’s four smaller-format murals, created between 1969 and 1971, given jointly by Mr. Gagosian and The Richard Avedon Foundation. Each image depicts a group of distinctive Americans of the time: Andy Warhol and members of The Factory, New York, October 30, 1969 (printed 1975); The Chicago Seven, Chicago, Illinois, November 5, 1969 (printed 1969); The Mission Council, Saigon, South Vietnam, April 28, 1971 (printed 1975); and Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970 (printed 1999).

•The Family (printed 1976), a portfolio of 69 prints that was first published in Rolling Stone magazine, given by Mr. Lauder and Mr. Gagosian. Each 8 x 10 inch photograph depicts an individual from America’s political, financial, and intellectual elite of the time.

“We are pleased that this core collection will now become a part of the photography holdings of the Israel Museum,” said James Martin, executive director of The Richard Avedon Foundation. “We believe that Richard Avedon, who was so proud of his Jewish identity, would be very happy to see this important body of work exhibited in Jerusalem.”

“The Israel Museum is tremendously grateful to Leonard Lauder, The Richard Avedon Foundation, and Larry Gagosian for this wonderful gift and this exemplary model of patronage,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Leonard, the Foundation, and Larry clearly understood how important it was to have Avedon represented in our collection, and their vision and generosity have provided us with a cohesive body of work of one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.”

Avedon began his career in the mid-1940s as a genre-bending fashion photographer, who introduced narrative elements into traditional fashion spreads. In 1969, Avedon adopted what would become his signature portrait style—subjects posed singly and in groups against stark white backgrounds that allowed individuals’ distinct personalities to emerge. The works gifted to the Israel Museum capture this moment of transition in Avedon’s career and demonstrate his central role as an artist who chronicled an era of conflicting ideas, radical politics, and shifting social mores.

Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970 is part of a series of photographic murals, unprecedented in scale, that Avedon began to create in 1969. Photographed within an 18-month period, these murals were groundbreaking for their multiple panels as well as their socially conscious and provocative subjects. Avedon took the 20-foot-long photograph of the counterculture poet, Allen Ginsberg, and his extended family at a party in honor of the publication of a new book by Ginsberg’s father, Louis.

The four small murals from this same series, given by The Richard Avedon Foundation, include: Andy Warhol and members of The Factory, New York, October 30, 1969, which captures a pivotal moment in Warhol’s public persona following the attempt on his life by Valerie Solanas, the move out of the Silver Factory, and the increasingly commercial success of his art; The Chicago Seven, Chicago, Illinois, November 5, 1969, which features the radicals charged with crossing state lines with the intention of inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago; The Mission Council, Saigon, South Vietnam, April 28, 1971, a group portrait of the military leaders who masterminded America’s engagement during the Vietnam War; and Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970, a 30-inch print of the same image reproduced in the larger mural.

The Family is a powerful document of the American establishment captured by Avedon in the wake of Watergate, during the 1976 Carter-Ford presidential campaigns and published that same year in Rolling Stone magazine. It includes 69 individual portraits of members of the American elite, including politicians, union leaders, bankers, CEOs, publishers, and journalists, who, despite differing political persuasions, reflected the homogeneity of American social power at the time.

“The American Contemporary Art Foundation believes in the importance of sharing the work of American artists as widely as possible,” said Leonard Lauder, president of the Foundation. “The Israel Museum already holds a strong representation of works by leading 20th-century American practitioners in photography, with the notable exception of Avedon. It was important to me that one of our nation’s most influential masters be represented significantly in this distinguished collection.”

“Richard Avedon’s work has been a personal passion of mine since I first saw his large-scale murals and showed his work in my Los Angeles gallery in the mid-1970s,” said Larry Gagosian, owner of the Gagosian Gallery. “Avedon profoundly impacted 20th-century portraiture, and his influence continues to reverberate today. I am delighted to play a role in ensuring that a significant body of his work now enters one of the world’s renowned museum collections.”

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