Friday Night Gallery Chat – Irving Penn – Photgrapher

” A Pale Green Mermaid Blog”


Good Evening,

Tonight I want to talk about a photographer who died recently.  His name is Irving Penn, He was 92 when he died, he left a serious and engaging body of work.  You cannot really understand the difference between digital and silver photography unless you go to a gallery or museum and look at photographs produced in this fashion.  There is beauty and  luminosity in silver photography that is lost in the flat computerized imagining of digital photography.

Because of the silver halide crystals that are the base of silver photography and the light that reflects through them to create the image  – your eye sees a layered somewhat mystical presentation.

In the NY Times obituary it stated that Mr. Penn used a turn of the century technique employing rare chemicals mixed with platinum not silver and that he hand coated each print using a single hand made piece of paper.

His work is exceptional, taking the shot is just the beginning of what a photograph can become.


Here is an example,


Have a bake a few cakes weekend! 


  Irving Penn from Google Images

Early career – FROM WIKIPEDIA

Irving Penn studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School from which he graduated 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 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, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, W. H. Auden, Igor Stravinsky and Marlene Dietrich.




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