"For me, the best fashion photography goes beyond the limit of reality to capture the essence of a subject, style, or mood," said Interview magazine's fashion director, Dara Allen, of Avedon's surreal photograph of Audrey Hepburn taken in 1967.

What would contemporary visual culture be without Richard Avedon? The famed photographer transformed fashion editorials and portrait work with his inimitable eye for emotional connection, presence and drama, and has influenced generations of artists. To celebrate his centenary in May, nearly two decades after his death in 2004, more than 150 artists, musicians, filmmakers, fashion icons and other notable public figures have selected their favorite images from his extensive portfolio to feature in a sweeping new exhibition and book, Avedon 100.” The show is on view at Gagosian in New York.

“It is hard to get your arms around the entirety of Richard Avedon’s work and process just how enormous his influence has been,” writes Larry Gagosian, art dealer and owner, in the book. “Avedon’s unflinchingly frank aesthetic has become so much a part of the conventions of photographic portraiture it is easy to forget that he invented it.”

Gagosian collaborated with the photographer’s estate, the Avedon Foundation, to showcase six decades of his work; the images in “Avedon 100,” were chosen by figures who run the gamut of culture and media. They include supermodels Cindy Crawford, Karlie Kloss, Iman and Naomi Campbell; designers Calvin Klein and Donatella Versace; film and television stars Julianne Moore, Chloë Sevigny, Emma Watson and Kim Kardashian; artists Tyler Mitchell and Jenny Saville and political figures Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush.

Together they cover the full scope of Avedon’s career — his groundbreaking portraiture of models, Hollywood stars, politicians, social activists and everyday Americans alike.

Throughout, Avedon’s subjects recount how comfortable he made them feel on set. Pioneering African American model Pat Cleveland warmly recalled sifting through images in the darkroom with him, while Brooke Shields called his photo shoots, “a nonjudgmental exchange of creativity and an exploration of the unexpected.”

And while many artists in the book spoke to his visual influence — fashion photographers Inez and Vinoodh describe how Avedon captured every person “at their most magnificent and heightened awareness” — others, like Watson, pointed to his commitment to equity in an industry that still struggles with a legacy of racism and sexism.

“Avedon was a pioneer of allyship for diversity in the fashion world,” Watson said in the book. “We see it many times, including with his insistence that fashion magazines use images of women of color, like the time he threatened to quit working for Harper’s Bazaar if the publication didn’t run a now-iconic 1958 portrait of China Machado ashing a cigarette.”

Here, see some of Avedon’s influential images over the years, with insights from those who chose them, as told in “Avedon 100.”

"A key element of Avedon's interests — and magic — was paradox," said Iman of a 1982 portrait Avedon took of Prince. "Here, with Prince, Avedon met the ideal embodiment. Prince was radiant, red-blooded male desire, just in reverse: not the usual swagger of splayed legs and tough, but searing allure, softness, and deceptive doe eyes, belying stone-cold intent... Avedon captures Prince not grasping his crotch but cradling his nipple. Prince's full lips are glazed with gloss and pout like a rogue baby doll. His hair rivals Godiva's yet beckons with virility."
When Hillary Clinton, then a US Senator, arrived for a shoot with Avedon in 2003, she recalled him looking at her and saying, "I've seen this image before." She explained: "I was wearing a pantsuit, which had become my uniform in my Senate years. Just as he was about to start photographing, he asked me to take off my suit jacket and put on his sweater instead, which was warm and comfortable — just like Richard. I couldn't help but laugh and the photo he captured is one of my all-time favorites."
"I've always been taken by Richard Avedon's portrait of Elizabeth Taylor because it epitomizes her timeless beauty," said Kim Kardashian of this 1964 photograph of the Hollywood star. "In this image, he proves why she was such an icon of her era yet, at the same time, completely transcended it."
Fashion designer Miuccia Prada selected this image of Boyd Fortin, a teenaged rattlesnake skinner from Texas, taken in 1979. "The power of Richard Avedon's work for me is always in its study of humanity, its strengths and fragilities, sometimes raw but always honest," Prada said. "Avedon's work gave power and
value to people who often went unnoticed. He celebrated unanticipated beauty."
Rodarte designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy were "fascinated" by this 1981 portrait of California beekeeper Ronald Fischer, for its "depiction of humanity and nature within the constraints of formal portraiture." They said: "The bees bring with them a looming possibility of danger, and Avedon controls that fear by capturing the brief yet calculated moment within the carefully constructed portrait."
Fashion designer Calvin Klein selected this infamous campaign image from his label's archives. The 1980 ad, starring a teenaged Brooke Shields, was for the brand's blue jeans. "Richard Avedon was one of the great fashion photographers of our time. He was also a true marketing genius," Klein said. "I knew that together, with his close friend, the writer Doon Arbus, we could create a campaign that would set the world on fire. All the controversies I've had to deal with in my career started when a very young Brooke Shields said the iconic line, 'You know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.'"
Gallerist and art critic Antwaun Sargent called this portrait of groundbreaking opera singer Marian Anderson "the image of Black virtuosic output." He continued: "The great American contralto Marian Anderson, eyes closed, midnote. She parts her lips, from which her operatic gift springs, to sing Avedon's camera a song. I like to imagine it is the emission of a single, perfect note from a hymn of rich, tremendous faith."
"Avedon's 1963 photograph of Lew Alcindor, the star center of Power Memorial Academy in New York City — long before he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — is a celebration of the human form," documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said. "There's a coolness and natural calm in the composition, from the ease with which he grasps the basketball to the casual crossing of his feet."
Filmmaker Sofia Coppola chose this iconic 1958 photograph of model China Machado. "As a kid, seeing Richard Avedon's images made me dream," Coppola said. "I especially loved his studio portraits of elegant women, like this one of China Machado, which is so full of personality and style. She was a remarkable woman and a pioneer of diversity in the upper echelons of fashion."
When Richard Avedon's book 'In the American West' came out in 1985, its impact on me and my fellow students was revolutionary," said artist Rineke Dijkstra. "By isolating people completely from their surroundings, Avedon lifted them out of the real world, so to speak." Dijkstra was drawn in particular to this portrait of
Colorado sisters Loretta, Loudilla, and Kay Johnson, co-presidents of the Loretta Lynn Fan Club. "They wear identical denim shirts and have '80s hairstyles. To me, the exceptional thing about this photograph is that the picture seems to be divided into three sections. On the top and bottom, the women resemble each other; you see their uniformity and what they have in common. The differences are in the middle section, where their individuality surfaces in their faces. They look weather-beaten; you can tell they've been through a lot. It's like Loretta Lynn's songs, which also describe life's struggles and disappointments. I always like it when portraits contain something universal yet remain personal and specific."

Avedon 100” is on view at Gagosian in New York through June 24.