Today I went to the Morgan Library on Madison Avenue, specifically for “Close Encounters, Irving Penn, Portraits of Artists and Writers”. Sixty seven photographs from 1944 to 2006, all owned by the Morgan Library, most of these photographs were created on assignment for Vogue magazine. When I look at these prints, I marvel at the print quality. The attentiveness of to the craft of balancing every shade between black and white to produce a finished work. Devoid of clichés, these photographs demonstrate Penn’s ability to psychologically engage those he photographed in a way that magnified quiet revellations in each sitter.
This is a must-see show, especially in conjunction with Penn’s must-have book: Irving Penn: Platinum Prints. Studying Penn’s contact sheets is always a treat. His creative process at work reveals a profound sensory awareness for the gestural inherently present in Form. Really, it’s a treat.