History of Photography

Introduction History of Photography (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

A World History of Photography (by Naomi Rosenblum)

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991 (by Hans-Michael Koetzle)

Photographers' Dictionary
(based on "20th Century Photography - Museum Ludwig Cologne")



Photographers' Dictionary

(based on "20th Century Photography-Museum Ludwig Cologne")




Irving Penn

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Irving Penn (born 16 June 1917) is an American photographer known for his portraiture and fashion photography.
Irving Penn studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School from which he graduated in 1938. Penn's drawings were published by Harper's Bazaar and he also painted. As his career in photography blossomed, he became known for post World War II feminine chic and glamour photography.
Penn has worked for many years doing fashion photography for Vogue magazine. He was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop and used this simplicity more effectively than other photographers. Expanding his austere studio surroundings, Penn constructed a set of upright angled backdrops, to form a stark, acute corner. Posing his subjects within this tight, unorthodox space, Penn brought an unprecedented sense of drama to his portraits, driving the viewer's focus onto the person and their expression. In many photos, the subjects appeared wedged into the corner. Subjects photographed with this technique included Martha Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O'Keeffe, W. H. Auden, Igor Stravinsky and Marlene Dietrich.
While a master of the studio flash, most of Penn's portraits are lighted with window light. For travelling to New Guinea and other locations to photograph indigenous people, Penn created a portable studio with a skylight deployed facing north with impressive results. These pictures had the same feel as his portraits of celebrities; fully adorned, naturally lighted, yet placed before the neutral backdrop, his tribal subjects appear as strangely defined models for a 19-century ethnographic investigation.
In 1950, Penn married his favorite model, Lisa Fonssagrives and he founded his studio in 1953. They have one son together, who is named Tom.
Clarity, composition, careful arrangement of objects or people, form, and the use of light characterize Penn's work. Penn also photographs still life objects and found objects in unusual arrangements with great detail and clarity.
While his prints are always clean and clear, Penn's subjects vary widely. Many times his photographs are so ahead of their time that they only came to be appreciated as important works in the modernist canon years after their creation. For example, a series of posed nudes whose physical shapes range from thin to plump were shot in 1949-1950, but were not exhibited until 1980.
His still life compositions are skilfully arranged assemblages of food or objects; at once spare and highly organized, the objects are raised to a graphic perfection, articulating the abstract interplay of line and volume.
He has published numerous books including the recent, "A Notebook at Random" which offers a generous selection of photographs, paintings, and documents of his working methods. Penn's wife, Lisa Fonssagrives, died in 1992.


Kate Moss


Kate Moss (Hand on Neck), New York


Pablo Picasso


Truman Capote


John Osborne


S. Perelman


Lion Skull




Black and white Vogue cover






New Guinea


New Guinea


New Guinea


New Guinea


New Guinea








Two Guedras, Morocco




Sanett Newman


James Van Der Zee


C. Levi-Strauss


Jean Cocteau


Alberto Giacometti


Still Life with Watermelon
New York, c. 1947




After-dinner Games
 New York, 1947


Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris
, 1950


Nude No. 1, 1947


Ballet Society, New York, 1948


Ballet Theater
New York, 1947


Mrs. Amory Carhart
New York 1947


Salad Ingredients
New York, 1947


Summer Sleep
New York, 1949


Nude 119, 1949


Paris, 1950


Tennessee Williams
New York, 1951


Three Asaro Mud Men
New Guinea, 1970


Man with Pink Face
New Guinea, 1970


Three Rissani Women


Cigarette 17
New York, 1972


Street Findings
New York, 1999


Hell's Angels, San Francisco


Spilled Cream


Mermaid Dress


Moroccan Palace


Cuzco children


Harlequin dress - Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, New York


Sunny Harnett


Iceland Poppy, New York


Rock Groups (Big Brother and the Holding Company and The Grateful Dead), San Francisco


Hippie Group, San Francisco


Marlene Dietrich


Cafe in Lima


Black and White Handbag


Girl in Bed


Sitting Man with Pink Face


Woman with Fan


Dorian Leigh and Maurice Tillet


Woman with Umbrella


Diane von Furstenberg for Vogue


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