“It has always been much easier (because it has always seemed much safer) to give a name to the evil without than to locate the terror within. And yet, the terror within is far truer and far more powerful than any of our labels: the labels change, the terror is constant. And this terror has something to do with that irreducible gap between the self one invents—the self one takes oneself as being, which is, however and by definition, a provisional self—and the undiscoverable self which always has the power to blow the provisional self to bits. It is perfectly possible—indeed, it is far from uncommon—to go to bed one night, or wake up one morning, or simply walk through a door one has known all one’s life, and discover, between inhaling and exhaling, that the self one has sewn together with such effort is all dirty rags, is unusable, is gone: and out of what raw material will one build a self again? The lives of men—and, therefore, of nations—to an extent literally unimaginable, depend on how vividly this question lives in the mind. It is a question which can paralyze the mind, of course; but if the question does not live in the mind, then one is simply condemned to eternal youth, which is a synonym for corruption.” — James Baldwin, from his essay “Nothing Personal”
Taschen’s NOTHING PERSONAL reprints the landmark 1964 collaboration between Richard Avedon and James Baldwin, and includes a supplementary booklet with outtakes, correspondence, and a new essay by Hilton Als.
A gallery exhibition of Avedon’s work from from book will be up at Pace MacGill until mid-January.
NOTHING PERSONAL—RICHARD AVEDON and JAMES BALDWIN
RICHARD AVEDON—NOTHING PERSONAL, through January 13.
PACE MACGILL, 537 West 24th Street, New York City.
Pace MacGill installation view.
Original book cover, Atheneum, 1964.
Richard Avedon, Dorothy Parker, from Nothing Personal. Avedon’s portrait of the great American writer, wit, and original member of the Algonquin Round Table was taken in 1958.