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Irving Penn exhibition: Grand Palais

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exhibition

Irving Penn exhibition: Grand Palais

irving penn.jp.jpg

First and foremost to all the readers, may you have a successful year filled with joy, love, happiness and good health!

There was just one more thing that I had to do to complete my year of 2017- go to one of my favourite photographer’s exhibition- Irving Penn at the Grand Palais in France.

Renowned American photographer was known for his fashion photography; mainly working for Vogue. He also focused on still life and black and white portraits of many famous people from Alfred Hitchcock, Charles James to Audrey Hepburn. The Irving Penn exhibition displays Irving’s greatest works, and is divided in the most famous parts of his work during time as a distinguised photographer. Irving was a fortunate man, as he was married to Lisa Fonsasagrives-Penn for 42 years until her death. Lisa was a Swedish model but was also crowned and recognised as the first supermodel.

1948- Vogue, Cuzco

After finishing a requested photo-shoot from Vogue in Peru, Penn decided to travel on his own to Cuzco. He rented a daylight studio and photographed many residents, visitors from nearby villages in their traditional outfits, in three days.

1950- En Vogue

The twelve most photographed models, New York, 1947
The twelve most photographed models, New York, 1947

I am so in awe with Lisa Fonssagrives’ hourglass figure, and the elegance she exudes through her posture and facial expression.

Man lighting girl's cigarette, New York, 1949
Man lighting girl’s cigarette, New York, 1949

I remember having to reproduce similar images such as this photograph. I acknowledge the skills it took to capture this picture. The silhouette is very hard to create without showing the light or having random shadows appear. The aperture setting has to be right, as well as the lighting you are using (phone, professional lighting etc) and the location. Just to let you know, I never managed to recreate this image- Hence Irving Penn’s talent.

I don’t know what it is that captivated me, but these two pictures personally stood out. Maybe it’s the balance between the black and white, but they are bold and powerful.

Vogue magazines, 1st March 1948- 15th May 1952
Vogue magazines, 1st March 1948- 15th May 1952

1950- Cigarettes

Penn was not a fan of cigarettes; he despised them even. He wanted to photograph the objects that people loved and were only temporary pleasures; which would in the end kill you and only hurt the people around you. Alexy Brodovitch, Penn’s mentor and father figure had died of cancer; who you had never seen without a cigarette. He therefore chose to print them in large sizes, unveiling the beauty behind something so destructive and treacherous.

1960- Time Capsules

Portraits of many famous people, 1960's- 21st Century
Portraits of many famous people, 1960’s- 21st Century

This last section of the exhibition featured photographs and portraits ranging from the 1960’s right up until the 21st Century. After the death of his wife in 1992, his fashion photography changed into showing that life is not forever, and that it is only for a short period of time. He also showed the development of modernity.

I hoped that this exhibition would not end after every turn, but it was, and what a great ending it was. His great career in photography will always be respected with people continuously try recreate his most popular images.

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