The most comprehensive retrospective to date of the work of the great American photographer Irving Penn (1917–2009), this exhibition marks the centennial of the artist’s birth. Over the course of his nearly 70-year career, Penn mastered a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography that is distinguished for its meticulous attention to composition, nuance, and detail.

The exhibition follows the 2015 announcement of the landmark promised gift from The Irving Penn Foundation to The Met of more than 150 photographs by Penn, representing every period of the artist’s dynamic career with the camera. The gift forms the core of the exhibition, which features more than 200 photographs by Penn, including iconic fashion studies of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, the artist’s wife; exquisite still lifes; Quechua children in Cuzco, Peru; portraits of urban laborers; female nudes; tribesmen in New Guinea; and color flower studies. The artist’s beloved portraits of cultural figures from Truman Capote, Picasso, and Colette to Ingmar Bergman and Issey Miyake are also featured. Rounding out the exhibition are photographs by Penn that entered The Met collection prior to the promised gift.


“A crystalline exhibition in which nearly every gallery exhales its own delicious breeze.” —New York Times

The exhibition is made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Enterprise Holdings Endowment, and The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with The Irving Penn Foundation.

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.


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