Irving Penn is one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished practitioners of the time-honored genre of still life. Following the venerable tradition of Chardin and other great still life painters, Penn brings his own astute and austere eye to the subject in photographs taken over the past sixty years. Fro his innovative and ongoing work for the editorial pages of Vogue to the harsher personal work of his later years, which explores the visual intrigue of such inconsequential objects such as street trash, bones, and cigarette butts, he has created images that have a wit, simplicity, and edginess that set his work apart. These are photographs that can shock as well as delight.
In his insightful introduction, John Szarkowski notes that “for more than forty years Penn’s pictures celebrated the pleasures of this life, even while always acknowledging the worm in the apple…Some of his more recent still lifes seem in contrast to have less to do with pleasure than with something like cultural reportage.”
Penn has personally over seen every detail of this elegant book’s design and production. An extraordinary effort has been made to create on the printed page reproductions that have a fidelity to the brilliance of the color images and the nuances and subtlety of the platinum prints. This is the first book devoted to solely Irving Penn’s work.—the publisher