Irving Penn  (American, 1917-2009) 

Photographer Irving Penn (American, 1917–2009) is celebrated for his compelling portraits, scenes, and still lifes, in genres ranging from fashion to travel photography. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Penn studied painting and design at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, working alongside Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch during his summers as a student. He later worked as a graphic designer in New York before being hired to shoot for Vogue magazine, under influential art director Alexander Liberman. Penn began designing the covers and photographing models for the magazine, establishing his reputation as an influential fashion photographer in images with streamlined, minimalist compositions and dramatic lighting.

Penn also created intimate portraits of celebrities, often encouraging his subjects to sit for him for many hours at a time in order to take truly personal, individualized portraits. He traveled to New Guinea, Morocco, Peru, and other countries around the world to capture images of families and workers in elegant, detailed ethnographic photos. In the 1960s, he began working with platinum prints, a laborious, turn of the century method of developing photographs; he later began redeveloping many of his earlier works using the process, bringing the technique back into popularity. Towards the end of his career, Penn’s work expanded to include arresting still lifes, such as closely cropped photographs of cigarette butts and bones. He died in 2009, at 92 years old, leaving behind a legacy of graceful, incisive works, spanning both the commercial and the Fine Art worlds. Penn has been honored with the Hasselblad Award in Photography, and his work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Tate Modern in London.

Find Irving Penn artworks for sale worldwide, artworks that sold at auction, a detailed biography, and more information on the artist below.
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Irving Penn, Two Guedras, Morocco


Irving Penn
Two Guedras, Morocco

Auction: May 8, 2014
Phillips London
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Irving Penn, Composition with Pitcher and Eau de Cologne


Irving Penn
Composition with Pitcher and Eau de Cologne

Auction: May 8, 2014
Phillips London
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Irving Penn, Vogue Fashion Photograph (Lima, Peru)


Irving Penn
Vogue Fashion Photograph (Lima, Peru)

Auction: May 8, 2014
Phillips London
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Irving Penn, Ray Bolger


Irving Penn
Ray Bolger

Irving Penn, Optician's Shop Window, New York


Irving Penn
Optician's Shop Window, New York

Auction: Apr 26, 2014
Santa Monica Auctions
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Irving Penn, Pablo Picasso (B), Cannes


Irving Penn
Pablo Picasso (B), Cannes
Michael Shapiro Photographs
Irving Penn, Untitled


Irving Penn
Hamburg Kennedy Photographs
Irving Penn, Untitled


Irving Penn
Hamburg Kennedy Photographs
Irving Penn, Cuzco Mother (woman) with High Shoes


Irving Penn
Cuzco Mother (woman) with High Shoes

Scott Nichols Gallery
Past auction results (2122)  View All
Irving Penn, Jérôme Robbins


Irving Penn
Jérôme Robbins, 1950
gelatin silver print


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Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton Oyster Bay


Irving Penn
Cecil Beaton Oyster Bay, 1946
gelatin silver print


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Irving Penn, Cigarette, #37, New York


Irving Penn
Cigarette, #37, New York, 1972


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1917   Born: June 16, Plainfield, New Jersey
1934 - 1938   Enrolled at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where he studied design with Alexey Brodovitch
1938 - 1941   Worked as a graphic artist in New York
1941 - 1942   Spent a year painting in Mexico
1943 - 1944   Designer and photographer for Vogue magazine, New York
1944 - 1945   Served as an ambulance driver and documentary photographer in the American Field Service with the British Army in Italy and India
1946   Photographer, working with Alexander Liberman for Conde Nast Publications, New York
1952   Freelance advertising photographer, New York
1958   Named one of "The World’s 10 Greatest Photographers" in an international poll conducted by Popular Photography Magazine
2009   Died: in New York, NY on October 7
2010   Portraits, The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
2009   Small Trades, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
2008   Close Encounters, Morgan Library & Museum, New York, USA
Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York (solo)
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
Tate modern, London
2007   Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
HackelBury Fine Art Limited, London
2006   Palais des Beaux-Arts / Bozar, Bruxelles
2005   Fondation Beyeler, Riehen
ICP International Center of Photography, New York
2004   Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Langhans Galerie Praha, Praha
2002   HAMILTONS GALLERY, London (solo)
2000   Retrospective, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, New York (solo)
1997   Retrospective, STATE HERITAGE , St.Petersburg, Russia (organised by Art Institute of Chicago; toured museums internationally for several years) (solo)
1995   HAMILTONS GALLERY, London (solo)
1993   HAMILTONS GALLERY, London (solo)
1991   HAMILTONS GALLERY, London (solo)
1990   NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART and National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C. (solo)
1984 - 1987   Retrospective, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, New York (toured the U.S.A. & Europe) (solo)
1985   VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, London (toured Britain)
1984   VISION GALLERY, Boston (solo)
1982   MARLBOROUGH GALLERY , New York (solo)
1981   FERENS ART GALLERY, Yorkshire (travelled to the Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester; Cooper Gallery, Barnsley; Castle Museum, Nottingham; Photographers' Gallery, London)
1980   MARLBOROUGH GALLERY, New York (solo)
1979   TIROLER LANDESMUSEUM, Innsbruck, Austria (travelled to the Nueu Galerie am Wolfgang Gurlitt Museum, Linz, Austria; Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria; & Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna)
1978   MODERNA MUSEET, Stockholm
1977   INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM of PHOTOGRAPHY, Rochester, New York (travelling to the Brooklyn Museum, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Cincinnati Art Institute, Ohio; & Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg)
1976   Masters of the Camera, American Federation of the Arts travelling exhibition
1975   JEWETT ARTS CENTER, Wellesley College, Massachusetts
1967 - 1973   NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA, Ottawa (toured Canada & U.S.A.)
1963   SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE , Washington D.C. (solo)
1961   MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, New York, travelling exhibition (toured the U.S.A.) (solo)
  FAIF Collection, Zurich, Switzerland