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Friday, October 9, 2009

Irving Penn 1917-2009

Irving Penn. What can I say? His work means so much to me and is so extraordinary.
I think no other photographer was as able. The other great, Richard Avedon - in my opinion- captured more powerful portraits and perhaps had the bigger outer personality.
But Mr. Penn was Mr. Avedon's equal & biggest rival in photographing fashion and in my mind the best still life photographer -- ever.
Most photographers pick one genre or are only talented in one area of photography.
But Irving Penn excelled in all he photographed and left an exquisite and unsurpassed body of work.
I still shoot film. In part because my aesthetic was formed by the incredible work of Irving Penn.
Eternal elegance, a confident sense of composition and a contemplative view of beauty guided his work. His prints are unbelievable. The richness of those works cannot (yet?) be duplicated by digital process. The subtle beauty and amazing command of tonal range is something I could geek out about for a very long time.
The original prints are so amazing that even reproductions can blow you away, Irving Penn's monograph Passage is a perfect example. It must be one of the most beautiful mass produced art books ever published.
For more about the life and work of Mr. Penn, head over to the NY Times to read Andy Grundberg Irving Penn obituary, you can find it by clicking here.

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