© The Irving Penn Foundation
© The Irving Penn Foundation
© The Irving Penn Foundation

IRVING PENN

The career of Irving Penn (1917 - 2009), a leading American celebrity portraitist and fashion photographer, is easlily represented by his first and only pocket size book People in Passage by Photology. For half a century, he has been associated with Vogue magazine, yet Penn's images go beyond the merely commercial. He brings an intensely personal vision to his magazine work and to projects of his own. The complex relationship between commerce and art in Penn's career is reflected in the many genres in which he has worked: from celebrity and fashion shots, to nudes and still lifes, to travel and ethnographic photographs. Penn's work ranges from trendsetting fashion photography and celebrity portraiture, to a highly idiosyncratic series of nudes, to ethnographic studies and travel studies that span the globe, from mud men in New Guinea to hippies in San Francisco. His photographs provide a fascinating record of cultural, economic, and political trends in the second half of this century. Penn uses various printing processes, bleaching and redeveloping prints to emphasize shading, lines, and textures. Penn has, in fact, become a master printer, revitalizing the platinum-palladium process in which photochemicals are painted onto drawing paper, providing the photographer with a high degree of control. Photology has represented Irving Penn since 1992 with two shows in Milano in 2002 and included him in the group show 20forU, in 2012 and one publication People in passage (book available for sale).