It’s not typical for an editor from one photo magazine to tout an issue from another, but here goes: The fall issue of Aperture (#188) has a fascinating story about a meeting of two masters. Called “One Day in May,” the story recounts the 2002 encounter between photographers Richard Avedon and Lee Friedlander, complete with pictures the two men shot of each other (above).
The occasion was Avedon’s 2002 retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art, for which he was creating a few new portraits. Among a list of artistically inclined prospects, Avedon asked Friedlander and fellow street photographer Helen Levitt to pose. Levitt politely declined; Friedlander surprisingly accepted, so long as Avedon agreed to be photographed while he was photographing.
The result is a striking diptych that reflects the two men’s shared intensity and contrasting styles: Friedlander appears deadpan serious and a bit haggard, while Avedon, next to his 8×10 view camera with cable release in hand, looks focused to the point of obsession. “Made within a few seconds and a few feet of each other, the pictures appear to come from entirely different planets,” writes gallery owner Jeffrey Fraenkel in the piece, which is adapted from a catalog essay.
This catalog is for the exhibition Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946-2004, which runs at the Louisana Museum of Modern Art through January and then travels in European cities and later to San Francisco. For more on the show, go here. You can get a copy of Aperture through the foundation’s Website. — Jack Crager