Irving Penn


    • Male

    About the artist

    1917: Was born in New Jersey
    2009: Died at 92 in Manhattan

    As Irving Penn’s career in photography blossomed, he became known for post World War II feminine chic and glamour photography.

    Penn worked for many years doing fashion photography for Vogue magazine, founding his own studio in 1953. He was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop and used this simplicity more effectively than other photographers.

    Expanding his austere studio surroundings, Penn constructed a set of upright angled backdrops, to form a stark, acute corner. Subjects photographed with this technique included Martha Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O'Keeffe, W. H. Auden, Igor Stravinsky and Marlene Dietrich.

    Penn photographed still life objects and found objects in unusual arrangements with great detail and clarity. While his prints are always clean and clear, Penn's subjects varied widely. Many times his photographs were so ahead of their time that they only came to be appreciated as important works in the modernist canon years after their creation. For example, a series of posed nudes whose physical shapes range from thin to plump were shot in 1949-1950, but were not exhibited until 1980.

    His still life compositions are skillfully arranged assemblages of food or objects; at once spare and highly organized, the objects articulate the abstract interplay of line and volume. Irving Penn exhibit opened in London on Feb. 18, 2009. His still life photography and portraits represent his clear love of capturing both the beauty and the oddities of life. He is most well known for his fashion photography, particularly his work with Vogue.

    Irving Penn passed away in 2009 at the age of 92 at his home in Manhattan.


    Source: Weston Gallery

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