Irving Penn

ENGLISH: Irving Penn was a portraiture and fashion photographer born in 1917. He started working for Vogue when the magazine was under the brilliant guide of art director Alexander Kiberman. In 1943 he realised his first cover for the magazine, in which appeared a coloured still life, in typical modernist style, composed of a scarf, a leather bag, a belt and a glove. Since his very beginnings Penn showed the ability of matching the new tendencies of photography with the classical rules of fashion shooting and broke the boundaries between art and commercial photography. By the end of his career the covers he realised for Vogue were about 150. In 1953 he opened his personal studio in New York, where he shot the famous portraits of artists, writers and other celebrities on a white or grey cornered backdrop, which became the classical setting of his compositions. His works were always characterised by simplicity and stillness and all the emotions were communicated by the expressions on the faces of his subjects. Among his portraits the most famous were those of the painters Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe and of the dancer Martha Graham. Penn largely experimented colour photography too, which he also used into his still life compositions, usually made up of food, skulls or found objects meticulously organised and accurately shoot. He died in New York 2009, at the age of 92.

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