Indepth Arts News: |
"Irving Penn, A Career in Photography"
2000-03-25 until 2000-06-04
Museum of Fine Art, Houston
USA United States of America
The career of Irving Penn (born 1917), a
leading American celebrity portraitist and
fashion photographer, is examined in this
exhibition. For half a century, he has been
associated with Vogue magazine, yet Penn's
images go beyond the merely commercial. He
brings an intensely personal vision to his
magazine work and to projects of his own.
The complex relationship between commerce
and art in Penn's career is reflected in the
many genres in which he has worked: from
celebrity and fashion shots, to nudes and still
lifes, to travel and ethnographic photographs.
Approximately 120 vintage and master prints by Irving Penn
(born 1917), a leading American celebrity portraitist and fashion
photographer, are featured in this exhibition. Penn's work ranges
from trendsetting fashion photography and celebrity portraiture, to
a highly idiosyncratic series of nudes, to ethnographic studies and
travel studies that span the globe, from mud men in New Guinea
to hippies in San Francisco. Yet despite the array of subjects, his
work displays a remarkable unity and consistency. His
photographs provide a fascinating record of cultural, economic,
and political trends in the second half of this century.
Penn is perhaps best known for his simply striking and elegant
fashion photography. His photography for Vogue magazine began
in the 1940s and continues to be published to this day, as does his
provocative work for fashion designer Issey Miyake. In contrast to
the thin models he generally works with for his fashion
photography, his nude figures have a weighty voluptuousness.
Penn uses various printing processes, bleaching and redeveloping
prints to emphasize shading, lines, and textures. Penn has, in fact,
become a master printer, revitalizing the platinum-palladium
process in which photochemicals are painted onto drawing paper,
providing the photographer with a high degree of control.
This exhibition has been organized by The Art Institute of Chicago. Funding
in Houston has generously been provided by Charles Butt and the Chase
Texas Foundation, with additional support from Mr. and Mrs. Robert L.
Clarke, Jeaneane B. Duncan, and John L. Wortham and Son, L.L.P.