Irving Penn (1917 – 2009) was an American photographer known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lifes. Penn’s career included work at Vogue magazine, and independent advertising work for clients such as Issey Miyake. It has been exhibited internationally and continues to strongly influence the art of photography.
Throughout Penn’s long career at Vogue, fashion was an essential part of his assignments. In the 1940s, using white paper backdrops and striking compositions to emphasize form, he introduced a concise style to fashion photography that departed from the ornate settings that had defined the genre. In addition to photographs made in the studio from 1950 to 1995, Penn traveled often to Paris to photograph the haute couture collections for the magazine. Until the end of his life, Penn used the same theater curtain found for him in Paris in 1950 as a backdrop to transform a remarkable variety of styles and designs into timeless images. From the start, Penn sought to express the sculptural form of clothing, a theme he explored in a special collaboration with Issey Miyake.
Following great success in New York with a museum attendance count of 300,000 visitors, the ‘Irving Penn: Centennial’ exhibition travels to Paris this September, where it will be on view at the Grand Palais from September 21, 2017 through January 29, 2018. It is the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to date.