Irving Penn (1917-2009) was a master craftsman of the photographic portrait. The clarity and precision he marshaled in his still life studies carried through his commercial and fashion work to an arguable acme in his portrait work. Many will say that he directly brought those techniques into his portraits by casting the famous personages as objet d’artes, art objects, with the posing and lighting to make them into 3D still life tableaux.
Even when his subjects appear ‘off-their-guard’ there is the sense of carefully crafted moment, in a thought out setting. Casual, maybe. Intense and intent, definitely.
Nonetheless, there is a great power in these individuals, enhanced and magnified by the focus that Penn brought with his unerringly sharp mental lens.
Featured in this exhibition are such cultural luminaries as Salvador Dali, Al Pacino, Pablo Picasso, Grace Kelly, Rudolf Nureyev, Truman Capote, T.S. Eliot, Duke Ellington, Harold Pinter, Edith Piaf, and Christian Dior.
Irving Penn Portraits presents thirty photographs of renowned personalities by one of the most distinguished photographers of the 20th century. With an essay by curator Magdalene Keaney, Irving Penn Portraits is the first book to focus exclusively on Penn’s portraiture and his contributions to the genre. From Penn’s early work of the 1940s to recent images made in 21st century, Irving Penn Portraits honors a selection of photographs with reproductions of superb quality.
Among those featured are Giorgio de Chirico, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Duke Ellington, Marlene Dietrich, Woody Allen, Rudolf Nureyev, Helmut Newton and Jasper Johns.
The exhibition will tour to Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome from 1 July to 19 September 2010.