The Chicago Seven, Chicago

Richard Avedon American

Not on view

"Wouldn’t you want to be indicted by the government for a high crime?" mused activist Jerry Rubin (in stripes) at a sitting for this mural. "It’s a great thrill. It’s an honor. It’s a compliment. It’s a thrill." Here, Avedon reads between the lines; when he photographed Rubin and other members of the Chicago Seven, their trial was taking a turn for the worse. Accused of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the antiwar, pro–civil rights protesters had staged courtroom antics, stoking a media spectacle and provoking retaliation from a hostile judge. An eighth defendant, Black Panther chairman Bobby Seale, had been jailed for contempt of court. As Avedon assembled the remaining men at a Chicago Hilton, Seale was sentenced to four years in prison. In the void at Rubin’s right, the photographer saves him a space.

If not for the trial, the seven would never have been pictured together. Unaffiliated, and at odds on key issues, they appear here in wary, ragtag alliance. The mural presents neither the degenerates conjured by the conservative press nor the clowns who stunted outside the courthouse. Instead, ordinary men, rumpled and spent from a stressful year, meet the camera in half-formed postures of resolve.

The Chicago Seven, Chicago, Richard Avedon (American, New York 1923–2004 San Antonio, Texas), Gelatin silver prints

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.