Irving Penn – Photos and Artwork

About Irving Penn

Irving Penn is one of the most celebrated American photographers of the 20th century. He was born in 1917 in Plainfield, New Jersey, and studied painting, drawing, industrial arts and graphics at the Philadelphia Museum School for Industrial Art between 1934 to 1938. During his prolific career, Irving worked for Vogue magazine for over six decades while also doing independent advertising work.

Penn’s photography was characterized by striking compositions and compositional clarity; an approach that distinguished his fashion photography from ornate settings that were common during the time. His corner style portraits featuring a simple gray v-flat became iconic and continue to influence studio photography today. The photographer’s unique style gained worldwide recognition.

Irving Penn’s contribution earned him great respect not just from his peers but artists outside of photography as well. He forged close relationships with influential artists such as Salvador Dalí who he photographed regularly throughout their careers.

Penn’s intensely private nature saw him interact mostly with family close friends which is why there is relatively little information about him compared to other influential photographers of his time like Richard Avedon. Despite this isolationist approach Penn still managed to create works that have been exhibited internationally continuing to inform culture even years after his death in October of 2009 at age ninety-two.

Photographs from Irving Penn

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