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Penn, Irving



  • Existence: 1917-2009

Biographical History

Irving Penn (1917-2009) was an American fashion photographer for Vogue Magazine.

Irving Penn was born in Plainfield, New Jersey on June 16, 1917. His family moved to Philadelphia shortly thereafter. He attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1934 and was a taught by Alexey Brodovich to be a designer; he became Brodovich's assistant in 1937 for one year. He tried his hand at painting, thinking this was his true vocation, but realized that he was wrong. Around 1942 he became a graphic designer for Vogue Magazine and was asked to shoot a cover himself after a photographer protested his simple design. He designed a simple montage of a glove, belt, and bag which became the cover of the October 1943 edition of Vogue. From then on he changed the world of fashion photography by using simple backdrops and focusing on the clothing and the models.

He met his wife, Lisa Fonssagrives (May 17, 1911–February 4, 1992), at a photo shoot for which she was the model. They were married in 1950 at Chelsea Register Office. Then in 1953 Penn set up his own photography studio in which he took private photographs and advertising work. From then on he turned away from fashion photography and took his technique into other areas of photography.

Citation, (October 8, 2009) website viewed June 8, 2011 (Irving Penn; attended Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1934; Vogue graphic designer 1942; m. Lisa Fonssagrives 1950; 1953 started his own studio), website viewed June 8, 2011 (Irving Penn; b. June 16, 1917; attended Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1934)

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Irving Penn photographs

Identifier: MSS 7868
Scope and Contents Collection includes three photographs taken by Irving Penn between 1964 and 1980. The photographs are: potatoes and Baltic Herring, Sweden, in 1964 and printed in 1986; metal building pieces in New York in 1980 and printed in 1986; two women and a child in Nepal in 1967 and printed in 1986.
Dates: 1964-1986