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Irving Penn Art

American, 1917-2009

With a career in magazines that spanned the mid-20th century heyday of print journalism and lasted through the first decade of the 21st, Irving Penn was the preeminent photographer for six decades at Vogue, where he worked right up until his death, in 2009, at age 92.

Penn’s refined and dynamic photography of models, celebrities and products like Clinique and Jell-O pudding, all shot in compositions of stunning equipoise in the cool remove of his minimal studio setups, were designed to stop traffic and cut through the clutter of magazine pages.

Penn flourished under the mentorship of two legendary art directors: Harper’s Bazaar‘s Alexey Brodovitch and Vogue‘s Alexander Liberman, both Russian émigrés like Penn’s father. Brodovitch introduced Penn to Surrealism and avant-garde photography as his teacher at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art and hired him as his assistant at Harper’s Bazaar during the summers of 1937 and ’38. Penn bought his first camera after graduating that year. He met Liberman in 1941, passing off to the recent New York transplant his freelance art director job at Saks Fifth Avenue. Liberman returned the favor by hiring Penn at Vogue in 1943 to sketch cover concepts, later encouraging him to shoot his unconventional juxtapositions of accessories and household items himself.

Assigned to photograph some portraits in the mid-1940s, Penn took a cue from the stage-set windows at Saks. He angled two studio flats in his studio and placed his subjects, including Truman Capote, Jerome Robbins and Salvador Dalí, in the resulting tight corner, literally and psychologically. Spencer Tracy leans jauntily against the walls in his portrait, while Georgia O'Keeffe simmers straight-armed in her confinement.

Penn didn’t work well with the distractions of the outside world. In 1950, when he was instructed by Liberman to buy an evening jacket and shoot the couture shows in Paris, he managed the assignment by having the dresses brought to him. He rented a top-floor studio with great light but no electricity and photographed models, including Lisa Fonssagrives (whom he married shortly after), against a mottled gray theater curtain that he continued to use for the rest of his career. Between deliveries from Dior and Balenciaga, he began his personal project “Small Trades,” in which he had local Parisians — a knife grinder, a mailman, a cucumber seller — pose for him with tools of their trade against the same backdrop. (He extended the series in London and New York.)

While Penn made bold, reductive still lifes for advertising campaigns throughout his career, in 1972 he applied his sculptural understanding of form to the unlikeliest of subjects: cigarette butts he gathered from the streets. The Museum of Modern Art showed Penn’s cigarette butts in 1975, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited another series of material salvaged from the street in 1977. At this time, Penn also began revisiting his earlier photographs, reprinting them at larger scale and with the more painterly quality achieved with the platinum-palladium process. In his lush, oversized platinum-palladium prints, he elevates the lowly castoffs to heroic objects worthy of archaeological scrutiny.

Find vintage Irving Penn photography on 1stDibs.

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Poster Gianni Versace Metropolitan Museum of Art Photo by Irving Penn, 1997
By Irving Penn , Gianni Versace
Located in Milano, IT
GIANNI Versace. Beautiful and rare Poster of the Metropolitan Museum of Art December 1997-March 1998 of the exhibition on Gianni Versace. The poster depicts a photograph by Irving Pe...
Category

1990s American Post-Modern Irving Penn Art

Materials

Paper

Grace Kelly
By Irving Penn
Located in London, GB
Original black and white photograph printed in Switzerland in the 1960' The photograph is by the renowned American photographer Irving Penn known for his fashion photography, portr...
Category

1960s Swiss Vintage Irving Penn Art

Irving Penn Irving Penn Pose Son Regard Sur L'oeuvre D'Issey Miyake
By Irving Penn
Located in London, GB
First edition, published by Little, Brown & Company, 1988 Irving Penn captures the work of Issey Miyake, this book explores the artistic relationship between Penn, one of the most...
Category

Late 20th Century American Irving Penn Art

Materials

Paper

Nude No. 57, 1949–1950
By Irving Penn
Located in Miami, FL
The work is elegantly framed in a high-end modern frame with archival matting. 1 of no more than 12, each print differs somewhat from the others Negative and print made 1949-1950 I....
Category

1940s Irving Penn Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Still life with Watermelon, NY
By Irving Penn
Located in Miami, FL
Phillips de Pury Collection of Alain Dominique Perrin Printed 1985, One from an edition of 21 dye transfer prints Signed Irving Penn Verso Literature: Szarkowki, Irving Penn Irving P...
Category

1940s Modern Irving Penn Art

Materials

Dye Transfer

Still life with Watermelon, NY
By Irving Penn
Located in Miami, FL
Phillips de Pury Collection of Alain Dominique Perrin Printed 1985, One from an edition of 21 dye transfer prints Signed Irving Penn Verso Literature: Szarkowki, Irving Penn Irving P...
Category

1940s Modern Irving Penn Art

Materials

Dye Transfer

New York Still Life
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
New York Still Life, 1947/April 1980 Signed, titled, dated, numbered, and inscribed in pencil, verso Platinum-palladium print on Rives paper mounted to aluminum (Multiple coating...
Category

1940s Contemporary Irving Penn Art

Materials

Platinum

Still Life with Mouse, New York
By Irving Penn
Located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
Signed, titled, dated and copyrighted 1983 on back of print. Stamped, 'Signed silver print of this negative not exceeding' and 78 written in pencil on back of print. Annotated, 'Copy...
Category

20th Century Irving Penn Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Gelatin Silver Photograph titled 'Circus People' by Irving Penn, 1947
By Irving Penn
Located in Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire
A framed black and white photograph made of gelatin silver titled 'Circus People' by Irving Penn, 1947. Stickered to the rear by art galleries, Keith de Lellis and Andre Emmerich, bo...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Irving Penn Art

Materials

Paper

Mermaid Dress (Rochas) [Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn], Paris
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Mermaid Dress (Rochas) [Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn], Paris, 1950/June 1979 Signed, titled, dated, numbered, and inscribed in pencil, verso Platinum-palladium print on Rives paper moun...
Category

1950s Contemporary Irving Penn Art

Materials

Platinum

Pear with Seeds
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Pear with Seeds, June 1993/November 1993-February 1994 Signed, titled, dated, numbered, and inscribed in pencil, verso Platinum-palladium print on Rives paper mounted to aluminum ...
Category

1990s Contemporary Irving Penn Art

Materials

Platinum

Untitled (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn)
By Irving Penn
Located in Kansas City, MO
Irving Penn Title: Untitled (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn) Medium: Glossy, fibre based paper Date: New York, circa 1949 Dimensions: 11 x 14 inches Stamped verso This print is outside the e...
Category

1940s Modern Irving Penn Art

Materials

Photographic Paper, Silver Gelatin

Irving Penn, Photogravure Black and White, 1947
By Irving Penn
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Irving Penn photogravure plate page 21 inside the book Phographie 1947 edited by Arts et Metiers Graphiques. Measures: 17 x 22.5 cm Black wood framed size: 40 x 50 cm Copyri...
Category

1970s European Mid-Century Modern Vintage Irving Penn Art

Materials

Paper

Pagoda
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Pagoda 1975 Signed, titled, dated, and numbered in pencil, verso Platinum print (Edition of 49) 10 x 7.5 inches, image This platinum print is from the “Street Materials Series.” ...
Category

1970s Contemporary Irving Penn Art

Materials

Platinum

Irving Penn, Photogravure Black and White, 1947
By Irving Penn
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Irving Penn photogravure plate page 21 inside the book Phographie 1947 edited by Arts et Metiers Graphiques. Measures: 17 x 22.5 cm Black wood framed size: 40 x 50 cm Copyri...
Category

1970s European Mid-Century Modern Vintage Irving Penn Art

Materials

Paper

Woman with Roses on her Arm (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in a Lafaurie Dress)
By Irving Penn
Located in London, GB
Woman with Roses on her Arm (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in a Lafaurie Dress), Paris, 1950 Signed, inscribed with title, edition and priting details and stamped with photographer's copyri...
Category

Late 20th Century Irving Penn Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Dior Kerchief and Glove, Paris
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
This photograph is an Edition of 9 and is signed by the photographer.
Category

1950s Irving Penn Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Woman with Sunblock, New York - Irving Penn (Colour Photography)
By Irving Penn
Located in London, GB
Woman with Sunblock, New York - Irving Penn (Colour Photography) Signed, titled, dated and stamped with photographer's copyright stamp on reverse Dye transfer print, printed 1985 15....
Category

1960s Irving Penn Art

Materials

Dye Transfer

Joan Miró
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Signed, verso Various copyright and studio stamps, verso Vintage gelatin silver print This artwork is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City.
Category

1940s Irving Penn Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Cuzco Children
By Irving Penn
Located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
Signed, titled, dated and numbered on the back with copyright stamp. The image was made by the artist in 1948 and printed in 1984. Includes overmat measuring 30 x 30 inches.
Category

20th Century Irving Penn Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

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Previously Available Items
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1980s American Post-Modern Vintage Irving Penn Art

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"Irving Penn Flowers" Book - 1980
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  • "Irving Penn Flowers" Book - 1980
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H 10.44 in. W 10.24 in. D 0.4 in.
Irving Penn Irving Penn Pose Son Regard Sur L'oeuvre D'Issey Miyake
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Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I, New York
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Located in New York, NY
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 Plai...
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21st Century and Contemporary Irving Penn Art

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1960s Swiss Vintage Irving Penn Art

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1970s Modern Irving Penn Art

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Located in New York, NY
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1950s Irving Penn Art

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Irving Penn art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Irving Penn art for sale. You may also search for art by Irving Penn in silver gelatin print, platinum print, dye transfer print and more by medium. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th Century and is mostly associated with the Contemporary style. Not every interior allows for large Irving Penn art, so small editions measuring 7.5 inches across are available. Those interested in this artist might also find the work of Lucienne Bloch, Berenice Abbott and Weegee. Irving Penn art prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $6,900 and tops out at $190,000, while the average work can sell for $56,500.

Artists Similar to Irving Penn

Questions About Irving Penn Art
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Celebrated American fashion photographer Irving Penn made great contributions to photography through his use of simple backgrounds. This gave him greater control over aspects like the lighting, and asserted his subjects and their fashions as the sole focus of the composition. Shop a collection of Irving Penn photography from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.

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