One-of-a-kind exhibit at National Museum of American Jewish History

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Long before selfies, smartphones and Instagram, photographer Richard Avedon, who is Jewish, was taking famous portraits - his work is now on display in Philadelphia. (WPVI)

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Long before selfies, smartphones and Instagram, photographer Richard Avedon, who is Jewish, was taking famous portraits.

He was named one of the 10 best photographers in the world.

His exhibit could only be seen in Jerusalem, until this week. Now it's being shown in Philadelphia until August at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Avedon's photos shaped America's view of itself after an exhausting decade of war and political scandal.

His stunning exhibit uses stark white backdrops and standing postures to capture the unadorned reality of our country's political, social and literary leaders.

Rolling Stone magazine hired him to chronicle the time before the pivotal 1976 Carter-Ford Presidential election.

"That's part of what I think was Avedon's remarkable ability - was to draw that humanness out even as he was documenting a much larger phenomenon," said Dr. Josh Perelman, museum's chief curator.

"Because of the white background and the consistency and format, it really allows us as viewers to really see the differences between the slight smirk of a smile or the twinkle of an eye," said Sarah Stolfa, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center executive director

Volunteers got a premiere before leading tours of the world-class exhibit and they are impressed.

So of all the world class cities - Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai, London, Paris, Rome, New York, Los Angeles - why send the exhibit only here to Philadelphia?

For 3 very good reasons. First, Philadelphia was the epicenter for bicentennial celebrations.

Second, the city has held photographic exhibitions for decades.

And lastly, the National Museum of American Jewish History has close ties with the Israel Museum.

Related Topics:
societyphotographyphilly newssocietymuseum exhibitmuseumshistoryCenter City Philadelphia
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