Artist of the Week – Photography Titan Irving PennTweet
“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word, effective.” Irving Penn
In my search for some unique design inspiration, I stumbled upon an homage to the great Irving Penn (1917-2009), American photographer internationally known for his portraits, fashion photography and still lifes. I strolled through a series of his works and just had to share with you guys the powerful emotions he manages to convey through the breathtaking simplicity of his art. It especially shines through the portraits he took of his illustrious creative contemporaries, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Pablo Picasso, Al Pacino and more.
Penn had a truly successful and impressive career which included work for Vogue magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and advertising jobs for renowned fashion designers such as Issey Miyake and cosmetics brands like Clinique. Moreover, his artworks were exhibited in over 30 exposés (both anthumous and posthumous) in famous museums all over the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art from New York, the Smithsonian Institution from Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery from London and numerous others from Monte Carlo, Paris, Turin, Switzerland and Sweden.
Woody Allen as Charlie Chaplin
Dorian Leigh and Maurice “The Angel” Tillet
He was among the first photographers to use a simple grey or white background in order to turn the focus on his subjects’ emotions. He is also known for his collection of female nudes called Earthly Bodies, which portray modernist characteristics. He photographed them during 1949-1950, but they weren’t exhibited until 1980 due to concerns about the public reception. In my opinion though, his most powerful work has to be the series of ethnographic photographs, through which he put a stamp on art history.
Have you got a favorite Irving Penn photograph? What does it manage to communicate to you?