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The cover of Avedon: Something Personal by Norma Stevens and Steven Aronson. Courtesy: Penguin Random House.

Richard Avedon Foundation Calls on Publishing House to Pull New Biography

The Richard Avedon Foundation is demanding that Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House, cease publication and distribution of a new biography on the late American photographer. The foundation claims that there are significant issues with Avedon: Something Personal, by Norma Stevens and Steven M. L. Aronson, including “countless inaccuracies.”

James Martin, the executive director of the foundation, states: “Spiegel & Grau should suspend marketing the book pending a review of its contents in cooperation with the Foundation. Much of the book needs to be corrected or retracted, if not entirely disavowed and discontinued. Without correction, this book is a huge disservice both to Avedon and those who are genuinely interested in his life and work.”

Martin notes that one of the main problems with the 720-page work is that it is partly based on a fictional book that the artist was writing with Doon Arbus before he passed in 2004. He said it falsely presents stories from Avedon’s An Unauthorized Biography as facts. Among the other parts of the book under dispute is Stevens’s account of Avedon’s death. Stevens, who served as Avedon’s studio director, writes that she was with the artist when he died while on assignment for the New Yorker in San Antonio. The foundation claims she was in New York at the time.

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