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Irving Penn Photography

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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Artist: Irving Penn
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 Photography

Materials

Platinum

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 Photography

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 Photography

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 Photography

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 Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

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 Photography

Materials

Photographic Paper, Silver Gelatin

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 Photography

Materials

Platinum

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 Photography

Materials

Dye Transfer

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 Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

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 Contact gallery for price. This platinum print is from the...
Category

1970s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

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 Photography

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 Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

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 Photography

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 Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Related Items
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 Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

  • Joan Miró
  • Joan Miró
  • Joan Miró
  • Joan Miró
H 9.375 in. W 7.5 in.
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 ...
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1990s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

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 Photography

Materials

Platinum

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 Contact gallery for price. This platinum print is from the...
Category

1970s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

Pagoda
H 10 in. W 7.5 in.
Fix Bike, Citadel of Hope Palmetto Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY 1982
By Meryl Meisler
Located in New York, NY
Fix Bike, Citadel of Hope Palmetto Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY 1982 Signed, titled, dated, and numbered, verso Archival pigment print (Edition of 10 + 2 APs) 17 x 22 inches, sh...
Category

1980s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Archival Pigment

Matylda
By Laura Stevens
Located in New York, NY
Archival pigment print Signed and numbered on label, verso 12 x 18 inches (Edition of 10) 24 x 35.5 inches (Edition of 8) From the series, "Another November" This artwork is offer...
Category

2010s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Archival Pigment

Cycle World International Motorcycle Show
By Yvette Marie Dostatni
Located in New York, NY
Gelatin silver print 16 x 20 inches, sheet This photograph is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City. About the artist: Yvette Marie Dostatni is a Chicago native who has been...
Category

Early 2000s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Gretchen, Fantasia Fair
By Mariette Pathy Allen
Located in New York, NY
Gretchen, Fantasia Fair early 2000s Signed and numbered, verso Archival pigment print (Edition of 12) 23 x 15.25 inches, image Contact gallery for price. This work is offered by ...
Category

Early 2000s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Archival Pigment

Billy Mann Dead 1970 (from the series "Tulsa")
By Larry Clark
Located in New York, NY
Signed, titled, and dated in pencil, verso Gelatin silver print 10 x 8 inches, sheet 8.5 x 6 inches, image Contact gallery for price. This work is offered by ClampArt in New York...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Masked Moss, Paris
By Roxanne Lowit
Located in New York, NY
Gelatin silver print (Edition of 25) Signed, titled, dated, and numbered in pencil, verso This artwork is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City.
Category

1990s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Really (In Honor of Felix Gonzales-Torres)
By Jim Hodges
Located in New York, NY
Double-sided archival pigment print (Edition of 75) Signed, titled, dated, and numbered in pencil, recto This print is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City, and is from "198...
Category

Early 2000s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Archival Pigment

Untitled (Sunday Drive)
By Luke Smalley
Located in New York, NY
Digital C-print Stamped and numbered, verso 20 x 24 inches (Edition of 10 + 2 APs) 30 x 40 inches (Edition of 5 + 1 AP) This photograph is offered by ClampArt, located in New York...
Category

Early 2000s Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Materials

C Print

Previously Available Items
Five Moroccan Women
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
IRVING PENN Five Moroccan Women, 1971 Platinum palladium print, printed 1979. 20 1/8 x 19 3/4 in. (51.1 x 50.2 cm) Signed, titled, dated, numbered edition of 40 in pencil
Category

1970s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

Football Face, New York
By Irving Penn
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...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I, New York
By Irving Penn
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...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Irving Penn Photography

Nude No 19 (Cropped)
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Irving Penn Nude No 19 (Cropped), 1949-1950 Vintage gelatin silver print 20 × 15 7/8 in.
Category

1940s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

New Guinea man with Painted-on Glasses
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Irving Penn New Guinea man with Painted-on Glasses, 1970, Printed April 1979 Platinum Palladium Print 20 x 20 in Signed and numbered edition of 50
Category

1960s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

Nude No 56 (Variant)
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Nude No 56 (Variant), 1949-1950, printed 1980 Vintage gelatin silver print paper: 19 7/8 × 15 7/8 in Image: 15 3/4 x 15 3/16 Signed and numbered edition of 17
Category

1940s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Girl Sitting (Cameroon), 1974
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Irving Penn Girl Sitting (Cameroon), 1974, Printed November 1978 Platinum Palladium Print 20 x 20 inches Signed and numbered edition of 40 additional photographs available for...
Category

1970s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

Callot Swallow-tail Dress
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Irving Penn (1917-2009) Callot Swallow-tail Dress, 1974 platinum-palladium print, printed 1978 signed, titled, dated, numbered edition of 19', in pencil, 20 x 20 inches
Category

1970s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Platinum

Nude
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Irving Penn Nude No 141 (Variant), 1949-50, Printed 1980 Silver Gelatin Print Sheet: 19 15/16 x 15 3/4 Image: 15 5/8 x 14 3/4 Signed and numbered edition of 15 Please inquire...
Category

1950s Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

  • Nude
  • Nude
  • Nude
  • Nude
H 20 in. W 16 in.
Nude No 81 (Variant)
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Irving Penn Nude No 81 (Variant) (1949 -1950) Vintage gelatin silver print 19 15/16 × 15 3/4 in.
Category

1940s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Sculptors Model
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
Sculptors Model, Paris 1950 platinum-palladium print, printed 1960 signed, titled, dated in pencil on verso ed 35 print size 18.5 x 11.5 inches paper size 22.25 x 17.75 inches ...
Category

1950s Modern Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Photographic Paper

  • Sculptors Model
  • Sculptors Model
H 22.25 in. W 17.34 in.
Large Sleeve (Sunny Harnett), New York, 1951
By Irving Penn
Located in New York, NY
gelatin silver print mounted to rag paper From an edition of 24
Category

1980s Irving Penn Photography

Materials

Rag Paper, Silver Gelatin

Irving Penn photography for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Irving Penn photography 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 photography, so small editions measuring 7.5 inches across are available. Customers interested in this artist might also find the work of George Hurrell, Lucienne Bloch and Weegee. Irving Penn photography 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.
Questions About Irving Penn Photography
  • 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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