What: The most comprehensive exhibition of the late American photographer’s works, presented by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to mark the centennial of his birth in 1917.
Why: As the biggest ever showcase of Penn’s photos, it’s obvious. With an oeuvre that comprised studio photography, still-life, flower studies and portraiture, he elevated fashion photography to high art with his trademark use of dark tones, natural lighting, and play on graphic styles and sharp visuals, influencing other lensmen greats from the late Lord Snowdon to Solve Sundsbo. Forming the core of this retrospective of 225 images are more than 150 pieces gifted from the Irving Penn Foundation to the museum, spanning every period in Penn’s 70-year career. Among them: some of his most famous photos of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn (his Swedish wife, and possibly the world’s first supermodel) and cultural luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Truman Capote and Issey Miyake; his unconventional nudes; and moving studies of urban labourers and New Guinea tribesmen. Also on display is the greyish backdrop used in almost all of his works that added a sense of realism to the striking imagery. Yes, you’ll be tempted to recreate your own Penn too.
When: April 24-July 30, 2017
Where: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 199, New York
Photos Irving Penn/The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
This story first appeared in Female’s May 2017 issue.
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