Irving Penn

Irving Penn

Irving Penn was one of the twentieth century's great photographers, known for his arresting images and masterful printmaking.  At a time when photography was primarily understood as a means of communication, he approached it with an artist's eye and expanded the creative potential of the medium, both in his professional and personal work.

Born in 1917 in Plainfield, New Jersey to immigrant parents, Penn attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts from 1934–38 and studied with Alexey Brodovitch in his Design Laboratory.

Penn's work initially had an ideal outlet on the pages of Vogue, where it was finely reproduced and widely disseminated. In 1943, the new art director at Vogue, Alexander Liberman, hired Penn as his associate to prepare layouts and suggest ideas for covers to the magazine's photographers. Liberman, another Russian émigré who had worked in Paris, looked at Penn's contact sheets from his recent travels and recognized "a mind, and an eye that knew what it wanted to see."
In the early 1970s, Penn closed his Manhattan studio and immersed himself in platinum printing in the laboratory he constructed on the family farm on Long Island, NY. This led to three major series conceived for platinum: Cigarettes (1972, presented at The Museum of Modern Art in 1975), Street Material (1975–76, shown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1977), and Archaeology (1979–80, exhibited at Marlborough Gallery in 1982). Like his earlier Nudes series, this work departed radically from the prevailing uses of photography.
In 1983, Penn re-opened a studio in the city and resumed a busy schedule of commercial work and magazine assignments. The following year, he was honoured with a retrospective curated by John Szarkowski at The Museum of Modern Art, which toured internationally until 1989. After the retrospective, Penn resumed painting and drawing as a creative pursuit, even incorporating platinum printing into his practice.

Penn's creativity flourished during the last decades of his life. His innovative portraits, still life, fashion, and beauty photographs continued to appear regularly in Vogue. The studio was busy with magazine, advertising, and personal work, as well as printing and exhibition projects. Determined to shape the body of work he left behind from such a prolific career, he also carefully structured and reduced his archives. In 2009, Penn died in New York, at the age of 92. During his lifetime, he established The Irving Penn Foundation.

 

Image © The Irving Penn Foundation.

Solo exhibitions

2018


Irving Penn, Beyond Beauty, Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS, USA


Irving Penn: Centennial, C/O Berlin, Amerika Haus, Berlin, Germany


 


2017


Irving Penn, Grand Palais, Paris, France


Irving Penn, The Flavour of France, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France


Irving Penn: Resonance, Fotografiska, Stockholm, Sweden


Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, The Frick, Pittsburgh, PA, USA


Irving Penn: Centennial, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn: 1950, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn: Fashion, Åmells, Stockholm, Sweden


Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, USA


 


2016


Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA


Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, USA


Irving Penn: Personal Work, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


2015


Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., USA


Irving Penn: Flowers, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


 


2014


Irving Penn: Timeless Moments, Amells Konsthandel, Stockholm, Sweden


Irving Penn: Resonance, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy


 


2013


Irving Penn: Cranium Architecture, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


Irving Penn: Diverse Worlds, Kumu Art Museum, Talinn, Estonia


Irving Penn: Underfoot, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA


Irving Penn: On Assignment, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


2012


Irving Penn: Cigarettes, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


Irving Penn: Diverse Worlds, Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden


 


2011


Irving Penn: Ethnos, Bernheimer Fine Art Photography, Munich, Germany


Irving Penn: Le Noir et Blanc légitimé, Galerie Thierry Marlat, Paris, France


Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue, 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo, Japan


Irving Penn: Radical Beauty 1946–2007, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


 


2010


Irving Penn: Archæology, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn: Small Trades, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland


Irving Penn: Small Trades, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France


Irving Penn: Small Trades, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


Irving Penn Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


 


2009


Irving Penn, 1917–2009, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn: Banquet, Galerie Thierry Marlat, Paris, France


Irving Penn: Small Trades, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA


 


2008


Close Encounters: Irving Penn Portraits of Artists and Writers, Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn: Vessels, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


2007


Irving Penn: In Flower, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn, (Jane) Corkin Gallery, Toronto, Canada


Irving Penn, Camera Work, Berlin, Germany


 


2005


Irving Penn: Platinum Prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA


Irving Penn: Ethnographic, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA


Underfoot: Photographs by Irving Penn, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


2004


Irving Penn: Present Concerns, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


Underfoot: Photographs by Irving Penn, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA


Dahomey (1967), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX, USA


 


2002


Irving Penn, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


Dancer: 1999 Nudes by Irving Penn, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA


Earthly Bodies: Irving Penn’s Nudes, 1959-50, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn: Still Life in Color 1947-2001, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn circa 1948, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


 


1999


Irving Penn Regards the Works of Issey Miyake, Ginza Graphic Gallery, Tokyo, Japan


 


1998


Irving Penn, Museo Colecciones ICO, Madrid, Spain


 


1997


Irving Penn, A Career in Photography, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA


Irving Penn: "Le Bain" (Irving Penn: "The Bath"), Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France


Irving Penn: The Small Trades (1950), Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


Irving Penn, Camera Work, Berlin, Germany


Irving Penn, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden


Irving Penn: Photographs from the Years 1949–1950, Ehlers Caudill Gallery Ltd., Chicago, IL, USA


Irving Penn: Photographs, Wildenstein Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan


Irving Penn: Retrospective, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia


 


1996


Irving Penn, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GA, USA




1995


Irving Penn, (Jane) Corkin Gallery, Toronto, Canada


Irving Penn, Fotografier. En donation till minne av Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn (Irving Penn, Photographs: A Donation in Memory of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden


Irving Penn, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


 


1993


Irving Penn: Collection Privée/Privatsammlung (Irving Penn: Private Collection), Galleria Gottardo, Lugano, Switzerland


Irving Penn, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


 


1992


Irving Penn Poster Exhibition, Axis Gallery, Tokyo, Japan


 


1991


Nature Morte, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


Irving Penn Selected Photographs, Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, USA


Irving Penn 1948, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY , USA


Irving Penn: Portraits in a Corner, 1948, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


 


1990


The Small Trades, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


Irving Penn Master Images, National Museum of American Art/National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., USA


Irving Penn: Fourteen Cigarettes, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


Irving Penn, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA


Irving Penn: Platinum Test Materials, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA


Irving Penn: Vintage Prints from the Series "Earthly Bodies," 1949–1950, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


1989


Irvin Penn Photographs 1949–1975, Vibeke Levy Fine Arts, New York, NY, USA


Issey Miyake Poster Exhibition/i.i.i., Ginza Graphic Gallery, Tokyo, Japan


Cranium Architecture, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


1987


Irving Penn Retrospective, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK


Irving Penn, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA


 


1986


Irving Penn Photographs, Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


Irving Penn, Sporting d'hiver de Monte-Carlo, Monte-Carlo, Monaco


 


1984


Irving Penn, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


Irving Penn, Vision Gallery, Boston, MA, USA


 


1982


Irving Penn: Recent Still Life, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


1981


Irving Penn: Photographs in Platinum Metals—Images 1947–1975, Marlborough Gallery, London, UK


Irving Penn: Photographs (on Assignment for Vogue), Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, GA


Irving Penn, Lunn Gallery, Washington, D.C., USA


Platinum Prints, Gallery 700, Milwaukee, WI, USA


 


1980


Earthly Bodies, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


1979


Irving Penn, (Jane) Corkin Gallery, Toronto, Canada, USA


Photography als Kunst 1879-1979 (Photography as Art 1879-1979), Tiroler Landesmuseum, Innsbruck, Austria


 


1978


Irving Penn Platinum Prints, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA


Irving Penn, Silver Image Gallery, Seattle, WA, USA


 


1977


Irving Penn: Photographs in Platinum Metals—Images 1947–1975, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY, USA


 


1976


100 Master Photographs, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1975


I Platini di Irving Penn: 25 Anni di Fotografia (Irving Penn Platinum Plates: 25 Years of Photography), Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, Italy


Irving Penn: Recent Works, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1963


Irving Penn, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D. C. USA


 


1960


Photographs by Irving Penn, Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York, NY, USA


















































Group exhibitions

2017


Penn/Warhol: Signs, Hamiltons Gallery, London, UK


 


2016


American Classics, Pace Gallery, London, UK


 


2008


Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography, Tate Modern, London, UK


 


2007


Photography Now, Hackelbury Fine Art, London, UK


The Construction of the Other: The Archives of Imagination, a Selection from the Collection of the Fotomuseum Provincie Antwerp, Palais de Beaux-Arts/Bozar, Brussels, Belgium


 


2006


Fashion Photography, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA, USA


 


2005


Recent Acquisitions 2005: Some Versions of the Portrait, International Center of Photography, New York, NY, USA


 


2004


Photography of the Fifties: An American Perspective, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA, USA


Tvari v tvar (Face to Face: The F. C. Gundlach Collection), Langhans Galerie, Prague, Czech Republic


 


1985


Shots of Style, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK


 


1977


The History of Fashion Photography, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, USA


 


1976


Masters of the Camera: Stieglitz,, International Center of Photography, New York, NY, USA


 


1975


Photography within the Humanities, Symposium and Exhibition, Jewett Arts Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, USA


Color Photography, Inventors and Innovators 1850–1975, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA


 


1972


Alexey Brodovitch and His Influence, Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA


 


1968


Photography as Printmaking, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1965


Glamour Portraits, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


The Photo Essay, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1964


The Photographer's Eye, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1963


Points of View: Single Subject/Multiple Artists, Smithsonian Institute, washington, D. C., USA


 


1959


La Biennale di Venezia della Fotografia (Venice Biennale of Photography), Venice, Italy


Photography at Mid-Century, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, USA


 


1955


The Family of Man, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1953


Contemporary Photography, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan




1950


Color Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


 


1948


In and Out of Focus, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA




 


 




































Public and private collections

Art Institute, Chicago, USA


Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA


National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA


Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C., USA


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA


The J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA


The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, USA


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, USA


Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden


Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France


Musée d’Art contemporain, Strasbourg, France


Tate Modern, London, UK


National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia


Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK