|Research Code Key|
|[E] Explanation||[O] Opinion||[W] Website||[R] Further Research||[Q] Quotation||[U] Useful||[!] Critical|
|[X] Exhibition||[T] Timeline||[I] Important||[>] Indent
||[P] Photograph||[B] Book To Read|
[U] Irving Penn was the last exponent of the aristocratic concept of fashion photography.
[U] He was sent to Paris by Vogue in 1950 to photograph the latest collection.
[I] The images seemed simple enough, but the representation of fashion was subordinate to the expression of the photographer’s personal viewpoint.
[U] Irving Penn, like Richard Avedon, operated simultaneously in another branch of commercial photography – advertising – and in his published albums he mixed commissioned images with others produced as part of more personal projects.
[U] The result was that his approach to fashion photography was shot through by that ambiguity which turns a commercial snapshot into a creative moment.
[U] The apparent simplicity of Irving Penn’s compositions conceals a formal complexity.
[I] It is the result of the particular elegance of the model’s outline, of the abstract interplay of lines and shapes, of empty and filled space.
[U] Irving Penn’s deliberate aim was to reinstate fashion photography into the history of painting.
[Q] “It has been helpful, in orientation,” he wrote, “to think of myself, a contemporary fashion photographer, as stemming directly from painters of fashion back through the centuries.”
[U] If Irving Penn’s idea of the existence of a pictorial category involving “fashion painters” was somewhat inexact, it did at least allow him to treat his own commercial activity with the free and disinterested attitude of the painter.
[U] This evolution of fashion photography into a means of artistic self expression would become particularly obvious in the 1970s.
[U] Greatly assisted by the unusual physique of his favorite model (Lisa Fonssagrives, who was also his wife), Irving Penn seemed to consider each photograph to be like a portrait which interpreted freely the conventions of pictorial photography – to such an extent that he made little distinction between work in the studio and the more experimental craft of darkroom and printing techniques.
[I] Stage props are usually absent from his photographs.
[I] They are posed against a plain paper backdrop and translate his perception of a unique moment.
[I] In his work, a simple photograph constitutes a personal vision, in which the outline, the gradation of tones, and contrasts, become the trademark of a way of looking which gives form to the world.