Richard Avedon at the BNF


From October 18th, 2016 to February 26th, 2017, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) is presenting an exceptional exhibition of vintage prints made by the famous American fashion photographer, Richard Avedon (1923-2004). Contact sheets and other works reveal his special relationship with France. The documents are for the most part loaned by the Richard Avedon Foundation in New York, and for some, are exposed for the first time.

What’s funny about the above glamour photo of Audrey Hepburn on the number 63 bus is the advertisement for bug spray (Néocide). Not very glamorous!


Interesting that Jacqueline’s gaze here is on her husband, and not directly into the camera, which puts her in a secondary role.

This exhibition brings together some 200 pieces by Avedon and explores the unique relationship that the photographer built up with France. Famous and celebrated throughout the world for his fashion photographs but also for his celebrity portraits, Avedon had close ties with France. The exhibition focuses on the signs of this deep affection, from the 1940s when he came to photograph the fashion collections in Paris for the magazine Harper’s Bazaar.

The exquisite black and white photos (with a few colour shots as a bonus) are currently on show at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France on their François-Mitterrand  campus, gallery n° 2 (link at the bottom of this article).


What a ravishingly beautiful woman Liz Taylor was. I miss her. I miss all of the beautiful, talented, generous celebrities now gone. Here, I love the désinvolte (nonchalant) expression on her face, as if to say “Yes, I know I’m gorgeous. Just take the picture, please, Richard’s waiting for me in the bar.”

The venerable fashion photographer and portraitist had a deep love of France, where he was able to immortalise a huge number of the country’s celebrities – Jean Cocteau, François Truffaut, Yves Montand, Coco Chanel, Catherine Deneuve, Jean Genet, Jeanne Moreau, Isabelle Adjani …


Coco Chanel

If you do go to this exhibition, I suggest that you also visit one of my favorite spots in Paris called Bercy Village, located just across the river from the BNF via a beautiful wide footbridge called the passerelle Simone de Beauvoir. Bercy Village is where I’ll be going sometime in December to take photos of their Christmas fairy lights. I’ve written many posts on this blog about the delights of Bercy Village and Bercy Park. (link below on the Village as well as the Park and the footbridge crossing the river). The 12th arrondissement, located on the east side of the city, is not well known to tourists (and should be.) If I were to move, I’d move there.