October 8, 2009

Irving Penn, 1917-2009.

A grandmaster of American photography has passed away. Renown for his fashion photography, Irving Penn begun his career in 1943 with Vogue magazine. He was also a master of still life and portraiture, and though exceptionally skilled with studio flash, preferred natural light for his portraits. In 1950 Penn married Lisa Fonssagrives (1911-1992), his muse and frequent subject of his photographs for Vogue.

Born in Udevalla, Sweden, Fonssagrives was dubbed "the first supermodel", though she tended to describe herself as "a good coat hanger" (while pursuing careers in ballet, photography, sculpting, and fashion design). Characterised by skillful use of light, careful composition, great attention to detail, and pioneering use of simple, stark backdrops, examples of Penn's work can be seen here.

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