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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.


  • 1964-1986


Conditions Governing Access

Condition restricted. See Supervisor of Reference Services for permission to access.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Irving Penn photographs must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

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.


1 oversize box (3.25 linear ft.)




Maintained in original order.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Kept in cold storage; access requires 24 hours advance notice.

Custodial History

This collection was purchased from the Pace/MacGill Gallery in 2011. The Pace/MacGill Gallery purchased the items from the Irving Penn Foundation, New York.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased; Pace/MaCgill Gallery; 2011.


Photographs (Photograph Archives).

Processing Information

Processed; Lionel Thomas, student photograph processor; 2011.


Register of Irving Penn photographs
Lionel Thomas
2011 June 8
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States