Because legends live, work, and R.I.P…

Mr. Penn…one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential photographers of fashion and the famous, whose signature blend of classical elegance and cool minimalism was recognizable to magazine readers and museumgoers worldwide, died this morning (Wednesday October 7th, 2009), at his home in Manhattan. He was 92.

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His long career at Vogue spanned a number of radical transformations in fashion and its depiction, but his style remained remarkably constant. Imbued with calm and decorum, his photographs often seemed intent on defying fashion. His models and portrait subjects were never seen leaping or running or turning themselves into blurs. Even the rough-and-ready members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, photographed in San Francisco in 1967, were transformed within the quieting frame of his studio camera into the graphic equivalent of a Greek frieze.

Merry Foresta, co-organizer of a 1990 retrospective of his work at the National Museum of American Art, wrote that his pictures exhibited “the control of an art director fused with the process of an artist.”

Although schooled in painting and design, he chose to define himself as a photographer, scraping his early canvases of paint so that they might serve a more useful life as backdrops to his pictures.

Irving Penn was born June 16, 1917, in Plainfield, N. J. His father, Harry, was a watchmaker and his mother, Sonia, a nurse.

Andy Grunberg, NY Times

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