Irving Penn (un) filtered
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— He never departed from his personal rule of working behind closed doors. Right to the end, Irving Penn chose to take his photographs in a studio, whereas all the new photographers, the New Wave, the New Hollywood, were advocating going into the street with ever–lighter cameras. It is said that until his last breath, he went to his studio on 5th Avenue every day. It was nicknamed “the hospital ”, as everything was so methodically tidy. There, Irving Penn produced original prints with the same manic attention to detail that made him a legend in the years when he worked with
Vogue under Alexander Liberman in the 1950s. The exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris celebrates what would have been his hundredth birthday (he died in October 2009 ), providing an exceptional opportunity to discover the original prints the artist did himself. He never authorised any exhibition print. Irving Penn photographed portraits of all the well –known personalities of his time ( Picasso, Capote, Richard Burton, Balthus) as well as unknowns. He was fascinated by the street craftsmen he encountered on his travels, which all had a hint of ethnographic romanticism ( Morocco, Peru, Papua – New Guinea … ) Even his still lifes, including his large platinum prints of cigarette butts, which were the subject of a controversial exhibition at the MoMA in 1975. Seen through his eye, even the tiniest bit of burnt waste takes on a noble aura that nothing
can destroy. GRAND PALAIS (Paris ), from 21 September 2017 to 29 January 2018