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Wednesday, 09 May 2012


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I will go there, as you suggest, when I have an hour or three on hand. I have almost every book of his photography and I still hold my breath when I see his work. He is a wonderful counterpoint to Richard Avedon, quieter but just as wonderful. My ex-brother-in-law was his assistant for three years back in the 70s and had some original prints from those times, what a thrill.

What a beautiful surprise to find this article. Penn and Avedon have always been my heroes. I'm so happy to find new attention is being paid to them.

Can't quite explain it, but when I got his platinum prints book, tears came to my eye several times reading it. That hasn't ever really happened with any other photographer, or artist.

I think about this quote from that book, "we don't call them shoots, it's very loving". After reading that, I stopped using the word "shoots". It's become sort of important to me not to.

Thank you, Ken!

Wow. Too bad (for me) that it's all in Chicago - windy town is so far away... but thanks Ken, for the pointer. And yes, I know many people who bought cameras and who should see all this.

Thanks for the pointer, Ken

Have to agree that this is well worth a visit. Or rather it's well worth a bookmark. It makes a change to have an in-depth resource as opposed to eye-candy image portfolios. It is of course intended to be an archive, so there is much to interest you, photographs aside.

I find the site difficult to read however, but using something like Readability to save the fleshy parts for later, leisurely consumption works well.

Awww Ken... how's a guy supposed to get any work done around here?

Thanks Ken for providing the nfo and the link. Some years ago I saw an exhibition of Penn photography at The Center of Creative Photography in Tucson, it was just amazing. You made my coming saturday. Thanks again.


Thanks Ken! I saw their first Irving Penn exhibit in the early 90's: they did a wonderful presentation of his work.
I worked for him late 60/70's and only wish I had then not only youth on my side but the maturity I have today to appreciate it all more so. To say I'm in awe of both the man and his work is an understatement

Bert Stern and Irving Penn are why I got into advertisng photography 37 years ago!

After reading Ken's essay and the comments, I will have to go back and look at Penn's work. I always considered him more of an illustrator than an artist, and thought his work outside of fashion was pretty art-schoolish. And rather than associate him with Avedon, I always thought he was more like Art Kane, but without Kane's depth in social issues...

Like Jim Weekes, I have a shelf of books of Irving Penn's work but to get a different slant in the articles and to have much of the major work at the end of the keyboard is a wonderfully compact resource.

I do wonder, though, why some of his later work - "Dancer" for example - is excluded.

To think that two giants in the pantheon led such parallel lives — Penn and Avedon.

Many thanks for the link,


Go through the site and perhaps need to see the real stuff. Otherwise, for each format and theme (right hand side), I knew at least one that is better. Competent but not sure he is great. Or, Ctein is right again, hard to please all.

Dear Ken,

I think that's a great archive, in toto, but it's really bad for looking at photographs. So far as I could figure out, to see a photograph at decent size, I have to click through several links and then backtrack from there and do it all over again to see the next photograph at decent size.

There needs to be some way to look at the photographs that's relatively effort-free.

Or maybe I just missed the obvious way. It's been known to happen.

pax / confused Ctein

Penn is without a doubt one of the most influential photographers in dire need of proper monographs in the fields of Fashion/Beauty and Portraiture. In my dreams, I own Penn's version of "Sumo".

From a quick glance, many of Penn's most amazing masterpieces appear to be missing from the AIC archives - unless the institute chose to only put up the partial archives online for the time being.

A suggestion: the AIC could use a real web designer who lives in 2012.

Glorius! I am about to kiss a whole bunch of my spare time goodbye.

I love Irving Penn's work. He is amazing at what he does. You did a great job Ken by writing about such a talented man.

Great Photographer. I have just discovered that he was the older brother of Arthur Penn, another American legend.

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