(1917 – 2009), United States

Irving Penn Artworks

Penn's streamlined, meticulously lit images with carefully positioned models quickly gained him a reputation for elegance and wit, be they on the cover, in articles, or in glossy advertisements. Many were in black and white, including Black and White Vogue cover (Jean Patchett), New York (1950); Debut Couture Shoot for Vogue (1943); Vogue, December, 1995 (1995); and Vogue, September, 1991 (1991). Some were in soft delicate colour, like the covers for Vogue U.S. November 1949; Vogue, May 1946; and Vogue, October 1943. Others combined the two, as seen in the covers for Vogue U.S., September 1983 and Vogue, December 1943.

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He used a daylight studio with an old theatre curtain for the background, which created a diffuse, soft ambience. After he began travelling, he usually used a Leica camera.

Penn also became successful with his celebrity portraits, devoting time and conversation to allow his subjects to relax so he could pick the precise moment. Notable portraits include Woman with Long Black Neck (Jean Patchett), New York (1951), Marcel Duchamp (1948), and Salvador Dali, New York (1947).

Range of Interests

Later in the 1960s Penn travelled widely to make ethnographic studies of various 'exotic' communities. Resulting photographs include Cuzco Children (1960), Two New Guinea Men Holding Hands (1970), and Sitting Enga Woman (1970).

On other occasions, he documented tradespeople working in London, Paris, and New York, the images appearing in the pertinent city editions of Vogue. See, for example, Small trades (1951).

In the late 1970s his enlarged images of discarded objects became popular, as did his shots of wilted or dead flowers. These included detritus such as the cigarette butts in Cigarette No.85 (1972) and Cigarette No.8, New York (1972), or the flowers in Poppy, Barr's White, New York (1968).

In 1964 Penn developed a distinctive darkroom technique, drawn from the 19th century, for making platinum-palladium prints. This involved using a cotton rag paper with ultraviolet light for contact printing and applying the platinum emulation with a brush. It creates usually soft, warm tones.

Browse Artworks
Summer Sleep by Irving Penn contemporary artwork print
Irving Penn Summer Sleep, 1949 Dye transfer print
50.8 x 60.6 cm
Pace Gallery
Poppy: Barr's White by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Poppy: Barr's White, 1968 Pigment print mounted to board
49.5 x 44.5 cm
Pace Gallery
Pear with Seeds (A) by Irving Penn contemporary artwork sculpture
Irving Penn Pear with Seeds (A), 1993 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
40.3 x 60 cm
Pace Gallery
Bee on Lips by Irving Penn contemporary artwork print
Irving Penn Bee on Lips, 1995 Dye transfer print
48.9 x 59.1 cm
Pace Gallery
Kate Moss, New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork sculpture
Irving Penn Kate Moss, New York, 1996 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
21 3/4 x 18 11/16 inches
Pace Gallery
Woman in Chicken Hat (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn) (A) by Irving Penn contemporary artwork sculpture
Irving Penn Woman in Chicken Hat (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn) (A), 1949 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
66 x 55.9 cm
Pace Gallery
Woman Turning Over by Irving Penn contemporary artwork sculpture, photography
Irving Penn Woman Turning Over, 1995 Vintage gelatin silver print
29.2 x 49.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Vogue Cover - Rose by Irving Penn contemporary artwork sculpture, photography
Irving Penn Vogue Cover - Rose, 1948 Gelatin silver print mounted to board
23.2 x 18.1 cm
Pace Gallery
Black and White Fashion With Handbag (Jean Patchett), New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Black and White Fashion With Handbag (Jean Patchett), New York, 1950 Gelatin silver print mounted to paper
42.5 x 39.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Rock Groups by Irving Penn contemporary artwork sculpture, photography
Irving Penn Rock Groups, 1967 Gelatin silver print mounted to board
48.9 x 48.6 cm
Pace Gallery
Girl Behind Bottle, New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork print
Irving Penn Girl Behind Bottle, New York, 1949 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
Pace Gallery
Bedside Lamp, New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Bedside Lamp, New York, 2006 Pigment print mounted to board
Pace Gallery
Still Life with Food, New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Still Life with Food, New York, 1947 Cibachrome print
7 5/8 x 9 5/8 inches
Pace Gallery
Early Hippies, San Francisco by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Early Hippies, San Francisco, 1967 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
Pace Gallery
Rock Groups, San Francisco by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Rock Groups, San Francisco, 1967 Gelatin silver print mounted to board
Pace Gallery
Lone Star Baptist Church, San Francisco by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Lone Star Baptist Church, San Francisco, 1947 Gelatin silver print mounted to board
Pace Gallery
Isamu Noguchi (2 of 2), New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Isamu Noguchi (2 of 2), New York, 1947 Vintage gelatin silver print
Pace Gallery
Hippie Family (Kelley), San Francisco by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Hippie Family (Kelley), San Francisco, 1967 Gelatin silver print mounted to board
Pace Gallery
Frederick Kiesler and Willem DeKooning, New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Frederick Kiesler and Willem DeKooning, New York, 1960 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
Pace Gallery
Hippie Family (Ferguson), San Francisco by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Hippie Family (Ferguson), San Francisco, 1967 Platinum palladium print
Pace Gallery
Hell's Angels, San Francisco by Irving Penn contemporary artwork photography
Irving Penn Hell's Angels, San Francisco, 1967 Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminium
Pace Gallery
Collision, New York by Irving Penn contemporary artwork works on paper
Irving Penn Collision, New York, 2006 India ink on paper mounted to aluminium
29 3/4 x 22 inches
Pace Gallery
Tower of Babel by Irving Penn contemporary artwork works on paper
Irving Penn Tower of Babel, 2006 India ink with gum arabic over graphite on paper mounted to aluminium
29 5/8 x 22 1/4 inches
Pace Gallery
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