"Photographing a cake can be art," Irving Penn said when he opened his studio in 1953. Before long he was backing up his statement with a series of advertising illustrations that created a new high standard in the field and established a reputation that has kept him in the top bracket ever since.
Penn has won renown as much in editorial photography as in advertising illustration, and his innovations especially in portraits and still life have set him apart stylistically. In later years, he turned to television commercials as an outlet for his unique talent. One of the most imitated among contemporary photographers, his work has been widely recognized and applauded.
Irving Penn was born June 16, 1917 in Plainfield, NJ Educated in public; he enrolled at the age of 18 in a four-year course at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, where Alexey Brodovitch taught him advertising design. While training for a career as an art director, Penn worked the last two summers from Harper's Bazaar as an office boy and apprentice artist, sketching shoes. At this time, he had no thought of becoming a photographer.
In addition to his work for Vogue magazine (the American, British, and French editions) Penn has been represented in many important photographic collections, including those of the Museum of Modem Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Addison Gallery of American Art, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
In 1958, Irving Penn was named one of "The World's 10 Greatest Photographers" in an international poll conducted by Popular Photography Magazine. Penn's statement at the time is a...