Exhibitions

Irving Penn

Irving Penn: Works 1939–2007. Masterpieces from the MEP Collection

Presented by DIOR
From the collection of MEP, Paris (Maison européenne de la Photographie) in collaboration with The Irving Penn Foundation

Curated by Simon Baker

Kyoto City Museum of Art Annex

Saul Steinberg in Nose Mask, New York, 1966
Gelatin silver print toned in selenium
Collection MEP, Paris
©Condé Nast

Christian Dior, New York, 1947
Gelatin silver print
Collection MEP, Paris
©The Irving Penn Foundation

Balenciaga Mantle Coat (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Paris, 1950
Platinum print
Collection MEP, Paris
©Condé Nast

Picasso (1 of 6), Cannes, 1957
Gelatin silver print
Collection MEP, Paris
©The Irving Penn Foundation

Irving Penn studied design from 1934–38 with Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. Following a year painting in Mexico, he returned to New York City and began working at Vogue magazine in 1943, where Alexander Liberman was art director.
Penn photographed for Vogue and commercial clients in America and abroad for nearly 70 years. Whether an innovative fashion image, striking portrait, or compelling still life, each of Penn’s pictures bears his trademark style of elegant aesthetic simplicity.
In addition to his editorial and advertising work, Penn was also a master printmaker. Beginning in 1964, he pioneered a complex technique for making platinum-palladium prints, a 19th century print process to which he applied 20th century materials.
The first retrospective of Penn’s work was organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1984. Following the landmark exhibition which travelled to over 14 countries after MoMA, he resumed painting and drawing as a full-fledged creative endeavor. Until his death in 2009, his innovative photographs continued to appear regularly in Vogue, and his studio was busy with assignments and experimental personal work.
Recent exhibitions include Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (2015–16) and Irving Penn: Centennial at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2017).

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