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Irving Penn - elegance & simplicity

From time to time this space will present the life and works of those photographers who have contributed to the art in groundbreaking ways. These are artists whose works we should know, study and appreciate.


Irving Penn was an American photographer known for his remarkable contributions to the world of fashion and portrait photography. Born on June 16, 1917, in Plainfield, New Jersey, Penn developed a keen interest in the arts from an early age. He attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where he studied design and painting. However, it was his work as a photographer that would ultimately define his career and leave an indelible mark on the industry.

After Dinner Games - New York 1947
After Dinner Games - New York 1947

Penn's career took off when he joined Vogue magazine in 1943 as an assistant to the art director. His unique approach to fashion photography quickly garnered attention, as he moved away from the traditional studio settings and embraced a more minimalist style. Penn's iconic images often featured stark backgrounds, simple props, and a focus on the subject's natural beauty. His ability to capture the essence of his subjects, whether they were models, celebrities, or indigenous tribespeople, made him one of the most sought-after photographers of his time.


Throughout his career, Penn's work extended beyond the realm of fashion photography. He explored various genres, including still life, portraiture, and ethnographic studies. His meticulous attention to detail and innovative techniques, such as using natural light and unconventional compositions, set him apart from his contemporaries. Penn's photographs have been exhibited in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence photographers to this day. Irving Penn passed away on October 7, 2009, leaving behind a rich body of work that continues to captivate audiences with its timeless beauty and artistic vision.



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