WAYS OF SEEING
There’s no mistaking an Irving Penn photograph: from the minimal light grey or white backgrounds, to diffused lighting and immaculate compositions, his visual aesthetic seems etched into the very fibre of fashion and cultural history. His striking black-and-white photography of the 1940s and ’50s seemed tailor-made for the architectural fashions of designers such as Dior and Balenciaga, often shown off by model and muse Lisa Fonssagrives, who eventually became his wife. Over his nearly 70-year career, Penn was also a storied portraitist who captured previously unseen sides of such personalities as Truman Capote, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso. Meanwhile, his still-life and beauty photography pushed the extremes of his art, often capturing a sense of the grotesque in moments of splendour. See the most comprehensive exhibition of the photographer’s work to date, “Irving Penn: Centennial,” on view now at The Met Fifth Avenue until July 30, 2017.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: MARLENE DIETRICH, NEW YORK, 1948; UNGARO BRIDE BODY SCULPTURE (MARISA BERENSON), PARIS, 1969; ROCHAS MERMAID DRESS (LISA FONSSAGRIVES-PENN), PARIS, 1950; TWO MIYAKE WARRIORS, NEW YORK, 1998; GLOVE AND SHOE, NEW YORK, 1947