Biography | Irving Penn

Irving Penn is an amazing photographer that has work for Vogue and a few other magazines. He has also done a lot of projects that are amazing and this is what brought him to my attention as they helped me work on one of uni projects.

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He was born in the USA in a place called Plainfield, New Jersey on June 16th, 1917.  Where he was educated in public schools, then he moved on to Philadelphia Museum of arts (now the University of the Arts) from 1934 to 38.  Where he studied all the main parts under Alexey Brodovitch.  He got some of his drawings published in Harper’s Bazaar which Brodovitch had him working for the company.

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He had a few jobs coming out of Uni and then went on a tour of Mexico and USA where he painted and did photography, before going back to New York where he worked for Vogue magazine in the Art Department.  he had started out on Layouts before being asked about doing photography.  He got his first cover in October 1943 and keep working for the magazine and moved on to getting his own studio in the 1950’s.  where he did advertising for quite a few clients like General Foods, De Beers, and Clinique. On a shoot in 1947, he meets Lisa Fonssagrives how was a Swedish model (she is the model of which was shot in Paris.).  They both married in 1950 where they had a son a few years later, called Tom Penn how to become a metal Designer.  His wife died in 1992 as where he was 92 when he died at his home in Manhattan this was on October 7th, 2009.

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While he was still alive he did some amazing personal projects.  One was where he made a tight corner and all the sitters would have to make their own poses and use the space how they saw fit.  These are some of the portraits that helped make his name.  The one that stands out to me  was his Small Traders work.  As this was about the working man that are no longer round to have a job as these trades were disappearing as life was changing.

For the corner project, he had pushed two theatre flats together to make the corner and people worked with that. and pull off they own pose.  As you can see in the set above with people doing their own thing from sitting there to clawing at the walls.  To me, this brings out the personal arts of themselves as well as show what they are like.  If I did this I would not change a thing as there is only one light used from above.

With his work for the Small Traders, it all started when he was in Paris and then moved on to London and final New York.  As you can see there are some trades that are no long here in the set of photos above, and some that are still here but look totally different.  This is what he was trying to show as times goes on things change.  This was what gave me an idea for a uni project that I did, which was all about market stall holders.  You can see all my images here.

I hope you all like it.

Joe

P.S. Please excuse any typos. I am dyslexic.

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