Photography

Penn, Irving (1917 - 2009)

Born in New York, Irving Penn - the director Arthur Penn’s elder brother - works in the advertising world when he decides, in 1942 to settle in Mexico to dedicate himself to painting. Returning to New York a year later, he collaborates with Alexander Liberman at Vogue and soon takes on photography to create the ideal covers he dreams of. Most of the American photographer’s work resides in contrast: it is inventive despite its apparent simplicity, beautiful even when it represents the ugly and dignified as it depicts modest individuals. Mostly in black and white, Irving Penn’s images emphasized directness and refused artificial lights and active outdoors, always to be taken in front of a signature grey textile background. In 1943, Edna Chase welcomed the news of Alexander Libermann commissioning the photographer for Vogue’s cover with the following words: ‘If you’re going to do such a radical thing as a still-life cover, why don’t you get the best still-life photographer to do it?’ The result was an instant hit and revealed Irving Penn’s mastering of narratives with his Vermeer-like ephemeral subjects and anthropomorphic creations that mingled fashion items, decaying flowers and food. The former painter’s hand was clearly visible in the grain of his photographies, the elaborate compositions, the profound blacks, the bright tones and the picturesque lines.

Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 8, New York, 1974  © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 8, New York, 1974 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 69, New York, 1972 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 69, New York, 1972 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 37, New York, 1972 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 37, New York, 1972 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Dog, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Dog, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Roe Deer, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Roe Deer, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Hippopotamus, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Hippopotamus, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Spotted Hyena, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Spotted Hyena, Prague, 1986 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Iceland poppy, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Iceland poppy, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Iceland poppy, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Iceland poppy, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Peony Silver Dawn, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Peony Silver Dawn, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Construction Leftovers, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Construction Leftovers, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Construction with Nut, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Construction with Nut, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Blast, 1980-1981, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Blast, 1980-1981, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Collapse, 1980-1981, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Collapse, 1980-1981, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Flowers © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Flowers © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Flowers © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Flowers © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cholesterol's Revenge, 1994 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cholesterol's Revenge, 1994 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Fish Made of Fish (Experimental), New York, 1939, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Fish Made of Fish (Experimental), New York, 1939, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Fish Made of Fish, New York, 1939, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Fish Made of Fish, New York, 1939, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, After Dinner Games, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, After Dinner Games, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Three Tulips: Red Shine, Black Parrot, Gudoshnik, New York, 1967 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Three Tulips: Red Shine, Black Parrot, Gudoshnik, New York, 1967 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Daisy with water drops, 1968 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Daisy with water drops, 1968 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Rose, Blue Moon, London, 1970 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Rose, Blue Moon, London, 1970 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Salad, date unknown © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Salad, date unknown © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life with Watermelon, 1948 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life with Watermelon, 1948 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Frozen Foods with String Beans, New York, 1977 © Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Frozen Foods with String Beans, New York, 1977 © Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Beauty Treatment with Gauze Mask, 1997 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Beauty Treatment with Gauze Mask, 1997 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Lips for Vogue US, 1995 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Lips for Vogue US, 1995 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Ospedale, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, <>Ospedale, New York, 1980 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Composition with Skull and Pear, New York, 1979 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Composition with Skull and Pear, New York, 1979 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, 3 Chanel Products, New York, 1968, Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, 3 Chanel Products, New York, 1968, Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, 3 Steel Blocks, New York, April 1980, Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, 3 Steel Blocks, New York, April 1980, Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Camel Pack, New York, 1975 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Camel Pack, New York, 1975 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Cottage Tulip: Sorbet, New York, 1967 Copyright Condé Nast Publications, Inc
Irving Penn, Cottage Tulip: Sorbet, New York, 1967 Copyright Condé Nast Publications, Inc
Irving Penn, Mud Glove, New York, 1975, Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Mud Glove, New York, 1975, Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Single Oriental Poppy (A), New York, 1968, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Single Oriental Poppy (A), New York, 1968, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life with Triangle and Eraser, New York, January 23, 1985, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life with Triangle and Eraser, New York, January 23, 1985, © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Italian Still Life, New York, 1981 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Italian Still Life, New York, 1981 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Anemone/ Anemone coronaria: Inra Blue, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Anemone/ Anemone coronaria: Inra Blue, New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Iceland Poppy/ Papaver nudicaule (E), New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Iceland Poppy/ Papaver nudicaule (E), New York, 2006 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Dandelion/ Taraxacum officinale, New York, c.1973 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Dandelion/ Taraxacum officinale, New York, c.1973 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Turkey Neck, New York, 2003 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Turkey Neck, New York, 2003 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Salad Ingredients, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Salad Ingredients, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Underfoot XXXI, New York, 2000 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Underfoot XXXI, New York, 2000 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Pear with Seeds (A), New York, 1993 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Pear with Seeds (A), New York, 1993 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Theater Accident, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Theater Accident, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Underfoot XXXIII, New York, 2000 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Underfoot XXXIII, New York, 2000 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Optician's Window, New York, c. 1939 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Optician's Window, New York, c. 1939 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life with Mouse, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life with Mouse, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Ripe Cheese, New York, 1992 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Ripe Cheese, New York, 1992 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue cover, 1943 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue cover, 1943 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, 2002 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, 2002 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, 1953 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, 1953 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, June 1998 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, June 1998 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, October 1966 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, October 1966 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, August 1999 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Still Life for Vogue, August 1999 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Two Glasses of Water (B), New York, 1970 © The Irving Penn Foundation
Irving Penn, Two Glasses of Water (B), New York, 1970 © The Irving Penn Foundation
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