Irving Penn American, 1917-2009


Irving Penn was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. He captured famous cultural figures - including artists such as Jasper JohnsPablo PicassoLouise Bourgeois, and Salvador Dalí - and elevated fashion photography to an art form through his work with Vogue, where he contributed for more than six decades. Penn was known for his pared-down compositional style, and he often photographed his subjects in the studio’s natural light; his images are marked by simplicity, sophistication, and tonal subtleties. Penn shot in both gray scale and color and experimented with 19th-century print processes as well.


His work has been exhibited around the world and belongs in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Moderna Museet, among many others. Penn also photographed tradesmen, nudes, and still lifes. Between 1948 and 1971, he took ethnographic photographs of communities he encountered during his travels (via Artsy).