Richard Avedon (1923-2004) helped define American style and beauty through his prolific career as a fashion and portrait photographer. As the artistic director for Harper’s Bazaar, and frequent contributor to Vogue, Look, and Life magazines, Avedon infiltrated the visual vernacular of fashion culture through his sensual black and white images. Avedon became renowned for his iconic portraits of 20th century icons. His large format pictures captured his sitters with extreme detail and chronicled an era of artists, writers, musicians, actors, and politicians.
These studio portraits of the Beatles, taken on August 11, 1967 in London, crystallized the group’s image on the international stage in the year leading up to its disbanding. Avedon shot four portraits of the Beatles that were then “psychedelicised.” The polarized colors and distorted exposure echoed the band’s hallucinogenic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Magical Mystery Tour” albums.
At the same time as the four "psychedelic" portraits, Avedon also shot another set of individual portraits which have been used on a Beatles posthumous album cover. These portraits were used by Avedon to create a collage, which was also used in Look magazine and offered as a banner alongside the four psychedelic portraits. The collage was nicknamed "Mount Rushmore". The Mount Rushmore banner was also offered by Der Stern, and The Daily Express and was printed the same size in all countries.
While no doubt tens of thousands of these posters were printed in 1967, they are large and unwieldy and printed on thin paper and so the issue is one of how many have survived in decent shape. This one has been backed with linen to preserve it and it looks out at you from behind nearly invisible museum glass.