Penn, Irving

born June 16, 1917, Plainfield, N.J., U.S.

U.S. photographer.

He aspired to be a painter but at 26 took a job designing photographic covers for Vogue and soon was established as a fashion photographer. His austere fashion images communicated elegance and luxury through compositional refinement and clarity of line rather than through the use of elaborate props and backdrops. He branched out into portraiture after World War II and became much admired as a portraitist of celebrities. In his portraits the subject is usually posed before a bare backdrop and photographed in natural northern light. The resulting images combine simplicity and directness with great formal sophistication.

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▪ American photographer
born June 16, 1917, Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.

      American photographer noted for his sophisticated fashion images and incisive portraits.

      Penn, the brother of the motion-picture director Arthur Penn (Penn, Arthur), initially intended to become a painter, but at age 26 he took a job designing photographic covers for the fashion magazine Vogue. He began photographing his own ideas for covers and soon established himself as a fashion photographer. In 1950 he married model Lisa Fonssagrives, whom he photographed for much of his best work. His austere fashion images communicated elegance and luxury through compositional refinement and clarity of line rather than through the use of elaborate props and backdrops.

      Penn also became an influential portraitist. He photographed a large number of celebrities, engaging each subject to sit for hours and to reveal his or her personality to the camera. In his portraits the subject is usually posed before a bare backdrop and photographed in natural northern light. The resulting images combine simplicity and directness with great formal sophistication. A memorable series of portraits he created in 1950–51, collectively called Small Trades, was of labourers in New York, Paris, and London formally posed in their work clothes and holding the tools of their trade. This project eventually extended to places such as Nepal, New Guinea, Dahomey (now Benin), and Morocco. Penn's later platinum prints of female nudes and of cigarette butts are characterized by the same tonal subtlety, compositional virtuosity, and serenity that mark his fashion photography and portraiture.

      Three hundred of Penn's pictures were published in Moments Preserved (1960). His other books include Worlds in a Small Room (1974), a collection of portraits of people he encountered in remote foreign locales, and Passage (1991), a retrospective survey of more than 400 examples of his work in portraiture, fashion, ethnic studies, and still life. In 1996 he donated his archives to the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum organized a traveling retrospective of his work the following year.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • PENN, IRVING — (1917– ), U.S. photographer. Born in Plainfield, N.J., Penn studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, graduating in 1938. He is best known for his aristocratic fashion photography, but he is also a master of portraiture and… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Penn, Irving — (1917 )    Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Penn studied under Alexey Brodovitch (art director of Harper s Bazaar) at the Philadelphia Museum School, and he graduated in 1938. Although he would go on to make his name as a photographer, it was his… …   Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

  • Penn, Irving — (n. 16 jun. 1917, Plainfield, N.J., EE.UU.). Fotógrafo estadounidense. Aspiraba a ser pintor, pero a los 26 años de edad tomó un trabajo como diseñador de portadas fotográficas para Vogue y muy pronto se estableció como fotógrafo de modas. Sus… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • PENN (I.) — PENN IRVING (1917 ) Photographe américain, Irving Penn est né dans le New Jersey en 1917. Formé à l’école d’Alexis Brodowitch, il commença par étudier le dessin et la peinture et fut directeur artistique d’un grand magasin new yorkais en 1940,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Penn — may refer to:PlacesEngland*Penn, Buckinghamshire *Penn, West MidlandsUnited States*Penn, North Dakota *Pennsylvania **Penn, Pennsylvania *Penn Lake Park, Pennsylvania *Penn Township, several municipalitiesEducation* University of Pennsylvania,… …   Wikipedia

  • Penn — ist der Name folgender Orte: Penn (Buckinghamshire), England Penn (West Midlands), England Penn ist auch der Familienname folgender Personen: Alexander G. Penn (1799–1866), US amerikanischer Politiker Arthur Penn (1922–2010), US amerikanischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Penn — Penn, Arthur * * * (as used in expressions) Penn, Irving Penn, William Rogers, Will(iam Penn Adair) Warren, Robert Penn …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Irving Penn — Infobox Person name = Irving Penn birth date = birth date and age|1917|6|16 spouse = Lisa Fonssagrives (1950 1992) children = Tom PennIrving Penn (born 16 June 1917) is an American photographer known for his portraiture and fashion… …   Wikipedia

  • Irving Penn — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Penn. Irving Penn (né le 6 juin 1917 dans le New Jersey mort le 7 octobre 2009 dans son appartement new yorkais)[1] est un photographe américain, considéré comme un très grand photographe de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Penn, Arthur — ▪ American film director in full  Arthur Hiller Penn   born Sept. 27, 1922, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.       American motion picture and theatre director whose films are noted for their critical examination of the darker undercurrents of American… …   Universalium

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