The Metropolitan Museum of the Arts will be holding a special event on the dates April 24, 2017 through July 30, 2017. A retrospective presentation of photographs by Irving Penn (1917-2009) will be showcased to mark the centennial of the artist’s birth. Celebrated with the most extensive collection of Irving Penn’s prestigious work, this art exhibit represents Penn as a portraitist, fashion photographer, still life virtuoso, and subsequent master of all trades.
Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 19
Date: April 24-July 30, 2017
Irving Penn is notorious for his influential work for Vogue magazine (www.vogue.com). His early couture masterpieces established a new standard for photographic interpretation of fashion. He continued to record the cycles of fashion trends in following years by exhibiting elegant images characterized by striking shapes and aesthetic innovation. Penn’s astute perception of artistic brilliance is wildly echoed in his workings.
“The exhibition at The Met will chart a… mapping [of] the overall geography of the work and the relative importance of the subjects and campaigns the artist explored most creatively. Its organization largely follows the pattern of his development so that the structure of the work, its internal coherence, and the tenor of the times of the artist’s experience all become evident.”
The exhibit will showcase the following works:
“street signs, including examples of early work in New York, the American South, and Mexico; fashion and style, with many classic photographs of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, the former dancer who became the first supermodel as well as the artist’s wife; portraits of indigenous people in Cuzco, Peru; the Small Trades portraits of urban laborers; portraits of beloved cultural figures from Truman Capote, Joe Louis, Picasso, and Colette to Alvin Ailey, Ingmar Bergman, and Joan Didion; the infamous cigarette still lifes; portraits of the fabulously dressed citizens of Dahomey (Benin), New Guinea, and Morocco; the late “Morandi” still lifes; voluptuous nudes; and glorious color studies of flowers. These subjects chart the artist’s path through the demands of the cultural journal, the changes in fashion itself and in editorial approach, the fortunes of the picture press in the age of television, the requirements of an artistic inner voice in a commercial world, the moral condition of the American conscience during the Vietnam War era, the growth of photography as a fine art in the 1970s and 1980s, and personal intimations of mortality. All these strands of meaning are embedded in the images—a web of deep and complex ideas belied by the seeming forthrightness of what is represented.”
Irving Penn: Centennial is co-curated by Maria Morris Hambourg, independent curator and the founding curator of The Met’s Department of Photographs, and Jeff L. Rosenheim, Joyce Frank Menschel Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs at The Met.
The catalogue is made possible by the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Inc., the Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh Publications Fund, and the Roswell L. Gilpatric Publications Fund.
A full program of lectures and a scholarly symposium will be offered during the course of the exhibition, including an evening talk, Leonard A. Lauder on the Photographs of Irving Penn. In this conversation with Jeff Rosenheim, Leonard Lauder (Chairman Emeritus, The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.; Chairman Emeritus, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) will recall his long relationship with the artist and his enduring fascination with the iconic American photographer’s work. It will take place on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 6:30 p.m., in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Met Fifth Avenue. Tickets start at $45. Details available here.
There will be a Sunday at The Met on June 25 from 2–3:30 p.m. with writer and critic Vince Aletti, Jeff Rosenheim, and others to discuss the life and work of Irving Penn and his magazine photographs. Additionally, Jeff Rosenheim will join two Conversation with a Curator events: On June 1, “Irving Penn’s Photographs of Fashion,” with Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge, The Costume Institute; and on June 28, “Irving Penn’s Photographs from New Guinea,” with Maia Nuku, Evelyn A. J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
Following its presentation at The Met, the exhibition will travel to Paris (at the Grand Palais, September 2017-January 2018), and subsequently to Berlin and São Paulo.