Irving Penn, National Portrait Gallery

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

I finally made it to this exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in its final week! A small but broad selection of Penn's work was displayed from the 1940s up to his final work in 2007.

Penn's distinctive style came from shooting his subjects in the studio, taking them out of their natural environments in the belief that this was how best to capture their true natures. His shots of models and fashion accessories against spare backdrops rather than distracting fussy settings, turned Penn into a star at Vogue, where his work eventually appeared on hundreds of pages a year.

I enjoyed seeing the portrayal of famous people, some of whom I knew the names but wasn't familiar with the faces. I also found interesting Penn's close-up technique of cropping the top or side of the sitter's head out of the picture.

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