Irving Penn

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Irving Penn (left) 1986

Irving Penn (born June 16, 1917 in Plainfield , New Jersey , † October 7, 2009 in New York City ) was an American photographer . In the post-war period he became famous as a fashion and portrait photographer . In the later years of his life he increasingly turned to the still life . Penn is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.

life and work

Irving Penn was the son of a Jewish watchmaker and the older brother of director Arthur Penn . He grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia .

Penn was trained as a designer. Since the 1940s he photographed a. a. for Vogue and was strongly influenced by the style of the fashion photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe . Many of the most famous Vogue pictures were taken from his camera. In addition to his fashion photos, his portraits became world famous. Many are familiar with his portrait of Pablo Picasso with hat and coat collar from 1957, from which Picasso looks at the viewer with a haunting eye, or the image of the hand of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis . His portraits also became famous, in which he primarily squeezed artists like Marcel Duchamp , Georgia O'Keeffe , Igor Stravinsky or Spencer Tracy between two walls at an acute angle to one another.

Irving Penn was married to the mannequin Lisa Fonssagrives from 1950 until her death in 1992 . He had met her at a photo session and Lisa Fonssagrives later also often modeled her husband, as for many pictures in Vogue. His picture “Harlequin Dress” (1950), in which Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn poses with a black hat, a black-and-white checked dress and a cigarette, is particularly striking.

In 1991 he was awarded the Prix ​​Nadar for the book En passant . The Irving Penn Collection is housed in the Art Institute of Chicago , which organized the 1997 touring exhibition, Irving Penn, A Career in Photography. The exhibition was shown in 1998 in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and in the Munich City Museum. In 2003 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters .


  • 1975: Irving Penn: Recent Works, Photographs of Cigarettes , Museum of Modern Art , New York
  • 1975: I Platini di Irving Penn: 25 Anni di Fotografia , Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin
  • 1975: Irving Penn: Platinum Plates , Photographer's Gallery, London
  • 1977: Irving Penn: Street Material. Photographs in Platinum Metals , The Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York
  • 1977: Irving Penn: Photographs in Platinum Metals — Images 1947–1975 , Marlborough Gallery , New York
  • 1980: Exhibition at the Center for Visual Arts, Oakland, California
  • 1981: Earthly Bodies: 76 Photographs of the Female Nude, Negatives and Silver Prints Made in 1949–1950 , Marlborough Gallery, New York
  • 1982: Irving Penn: Recent Still Life: Negatives 1979–1980, Prints in Platinum Metals 1980–1982 , Marlborough Gallery, New York
  • 1984: Irving Penn , a retrospective, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 1986: Irving Penn: Printemps des arts de Monte Carlo , Monte Carlo
  • 1989: Irving Penn: Cranium Architecture , Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York
  • 1990: Irving Penn: Master Images , National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution , Washington, DC
  • 1990: Irving Penn, Other Ways of Being: 100 Photographs 1948–1971 , Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York
  • 1990: Irving Penn: Platinum Test Material , Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona
  • 1994: Irving Penn: Collection Privée / private collection , Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Friborg, Switzerland
  • 1995: Irving Penn Photographs: A Donation in Memory of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn , Moderna Museet , Stockholm
  • 1996: Irving Penn: Fringes , PaceWildensteinMacGill , Los Angeles
  • 1997: Le Bain: Dancers' Workshop od San Francisco , Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
  • 1997: Irving Penn: A Career in Photography , The Art Institute of Chicago
  • 1999: New and Unseen , PaceWildenstein, New York
  • 1999: Process , Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York
  • 2001: Irving Penn: Objects (Still Lifes) for the Printed Page , Museum Folkwang , Essen
  • 2002: Dancer: 1999 Nudes by Irving Penn , Whitney Museum of American Art , New York
  • 2002: Earthly Bodies: Irving Penn's Nudes, 1949–1950 , Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York
  • 2002: Irving Penn: Still Life in Color, 1947–2001 , Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York
  • 2004: Dahomey (1967) , Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • 2005: Irving Penn: Platinum Prints , the National Gallery of Art , Washington, DC
  • 2008: Close Encounters , Morgan Library & Museum , New York
  • 2009: The Small Trades , J. Paul Getty Museum , Los Angeles: a collection of 252 full-length portraits by Penn from 1950 to 1951
  • 2010: Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (London) : an exhibit of over 120 portraits of people from the worlds of literature, music and the visual and performing arts
  • 2012: Irving Penn: Diverse Worlds , Moderna Museet Malmö , Malmö, Sweden
  • 2013: "Irving Penn: On Assignment", Pace Gallery, New York City, New York.
  • 2017/18: Irving Penn, Grand Palais , Paris
  • 2018: Irving Penn, C / O Berlin


  • Irving Penn: A retrospective. Collection and Archives Irving Penn - The Art Institute of Chicago . Edited by Colin Westerbeck. Munich u. a .: Schirmer / Mosel, 1997, ISBN 3-88814-883-9 .
  • John Szarkowski: Irving Penn . The Museum of Modern Art, New York 1984, ISBN 0-87070-562-8

Web links

Commons : Irving Penn  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Frankfurter Neue Presse:  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed: October 9, 2009.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  2. ^ Honorary Members: Irving Penn. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 2, 2019 .
  3. Irving Penn: Small Trades . Retrieved March 23, 2012.