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Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009)


Birth Place: Plainfield (Union county, New Jersey, United States)

Unlike other American photographers who choose a specific photographic genre, Irving Penn was the ultimate master of understated, eclectic style photography. His photos, like works of art, cause the viewer to study the depths to which Irving Penn emphasized style in fashions and with his celebrity subjects. He preferred a modernistic approach to his photography, often choosing backdrops of unusual distraction vs. his highlighted subject.

Irving Penn was a sought after fashion photographer for the prestigious fashion magazine, "Vogue." However, the early years of his career were limited to commercial photography for a broad range of clients in cosmetics, the food and fragrance industry and top names in jewelry and haute couture. Born in 1917 in Plainfield, a humble central New Jersey town, Irving Penn first studied at the Philadelphia Museum School. His intention was to photograph commercial and industrial subjects. Later, he opted for a freelance career and a position with Saks Fifth Avenue. He was drawn to photographing for the fashion world. At the midpoint of his career, he gravitated to photographing nudes to increase his talent for capturing the vagaries of the human body in its most natural form. His work became recognized as photo art. Before the advent of digital photography, Penn, like many photographers, experimented with various techniques for developing photos. These experiments allowed Penn's photos to take on an entirely new appearance in final form.

In addition to his busy photographic career, Penn's photography was exhibited at some of the US's most prestigious museums and galleries. Today, his collections value in the millions.

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