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Irving Penn: Vessels

February 21–March 29, 2008

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

Pace/MacGill Gallery will open Irving Penn: Vessels, an exhibition of Mr. Penn’s newest body of work, on Thursday, February 21. The exhibition will continue through March 29. Made in 2007, the ten gelatin silver prints on view depict vessels that Penn and his wife, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, collected during their travels together throughout the world.

Irving Penn: Vessels is accompanied by a catalog of the same name which includes an essay by Walter Liedtke, Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Mr. Penn (b. 1917) has made still life photographs since the beginning of his career. In fact, one of them appeared as his first Vogue cover in October 1943. Now in his 91st year, these new images mark Penn’s return to familiar forms. The objects are more than mementos, they are long-time companions. In fact, several of the vessels in this exhibition have appeared in previous photographs made decades earlier.

Penn has concentrated on three areas throughout his career: fashion, portraiture and still life. From his ongoing, innovative collaboration with Vogue to the tougher, more elemental work investigating the visual intrigue of seemingly inconsequential debris such as garbage, bones, and cigarette butts, Penn treats inanimate objects in a straightforward manner without embellishment or environmental distraction. Over the course of his 70 year career in photography, Penn has expanded the creative limits of the medium by continually exploring new subjects and techniques.

Last year, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York acquired 67 of Penn’s portraits that depict a range of cultural luminaries. Acquired through the gift of the artist and the generosity of a trustee, these portraits constitute the Morgan’s first major photography acquisition. An exhibition of these works is on view at the Morgan from January 18 through April 13.

Penn’s work belongs to public collections throughout the country and abroad, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Penn is the author of several books of photographs, including Moments Preserved (1960); Worlds in a Small Room (1974); Inventive Paris Clothes (1977); Flowers (1980); Issey Miyake (1998); Passage (1991); Still Life (2001); Notebook at Random (2004); and Photographs of Dahomey (2004).

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