With a major new biography of Richard Avedon, Something Personal, due to be published later this month, the New Yorker‘s Hilton Als looks back at Nothing Personal, the photographer’s 1964 collaboration with author James Baldwin. An exhibit of material from the book will go on display at the Pace/McGill Gallery, NYC, on November 17.
“As an artist, Avedon told the truth about lies, and why we need them or metaphors to survive, and how people fit into their self-mythologizing like body bags, and die in them if they’re not careful. Look at his portrait of Marilyn Monroe in Nothing Personal, perhaps one of the most difficult pictures in the book. In an interview, Dick said Monroe had given a performance as Marilyn Monroe earlier in the shoot, laughing and giggling and dancing. But then the shoot was over, and where was she? Who was she? Nothing Personal is riddled with these questions of identity—what makes a self?—a question that gave a certain thirteen-year-old ideas about the questions he might ask in this world: Who are we? To each other? And why?”