Mourning a Master of Photography

Irving Penn took the above photo of model Evelyn Tripp sixty years ago, in 1949. Penn’s photo below appeared in photographer Clayton Cubitt’s blog earlier this year with the caption “Irving Penn is 91 years old and he still kicks your ass.”

Many informative Irving Penn obituaries have popped up on the web over the past few hours – my favorite is this piece by the New York Times. There were many things I didn’t know about him! I was delighted to learn that, like me, he had the whole Jersey-Philly thing going on. His brother Arthur was the director of the film Bonnie and Clyde. Before falling into photography, he wanted to travel to Mexico with the hopes of forging a career as a painter. He joined the army, and worked as an ambulance driver.

Irving Penn lived an active, creative life, producing new work right up until his death. Let Penn’s legacy inspire us all, for this is the way that life should be lived. It doesn’t matter if you’re 70, 80 or 90: stay curious about the world, never give up your vision, and always continue to strive to do your best.

More inspiring images by Penn taken at various points in the past 60 years, after the jump.

See also: The Decline of Fashion Photography

Protractor Face – date unkown

Woman in Moroccan palace (Penn’s wife & muse Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), 1951

Sometime in the 90s; YSL

Jean Patchett, 1949

For Vogue, 1951

7 Responses to “Mourning a Master of Photography”

  1. john colby Says:

    Huge loss.

  2. Jennifer dG Says:

    I love the triangular shapes in the composition of the photos you picked, Nadya. I could stare at Irving Penn’s photographs for hours. Those who are in Southern California can see an exhibition of his work — Small Trades, photos of people in their work clothes — at the Getty right now:

  3. Jessica Says:

    Beautiful selection of images, Nadya. He was such an amazing artist! It’s deeply inspiring to see someone who stayed so prolific (and relevant!) for so many years. RIP.

  4. Milktoast Says:

    Penn was powerful; well past the point of Living Legend; always the innovator. And I think Lisa Fonssagrives was the greatest model who ever lived. She owned that coy/sexy/available/total-bitch look. If I could work with any model in history, it would be her, hands down.

    The work the two did together was beautiful. A magical photographer and a beautiful and talented subject.

  5. Tequila Says:

    There is no room for sadness here. It feels less that he’s passed and more that he’s simply off working somewhere else now. The fact we have more work from him than most produce in a trio of lifetimes is a great gift to have and pour over. Any of us can only hope to be live as long and still be on top of things artistically. I still remember doing a short paper on him for a Photo 101 class eons ago…he was considered a master of masters then. Who knew he’d surpass all known categories of such labels and just hit that rare era where each bit of work he did was prized. RIP good sir…though no doubt he’s looking through a viewfinder still.

  6. PLANET://DAMAGE » Blog Archive » rest in peace, irving penn (1917-2009) Says:

    […] honest piece about the life and death of Irving Penn, a huge loss of the fashion photography scene by Coilhouse, Mourning a Master of […]

  7. Peter Says:

    Some seriously beautiful shots of his work here.