(United States of America 1917 – Oct 2009)
24.0 x 14.5 cm image; 35.8 x 28.4 cm sheet
Simplicity and clarity of style is a trademark of Penn's studio portraits. Backdrops and props are minimal; the space of the studio itself is used. Penn adopted the device of posing his subjects in sharp-angled corner spaces to further bring out their personality and remove any distractions from his minimal and austere composition.
'Sometime in 1948 I began photographing portraits in a small corner space made of two studio flats pushed together, the floor covered with a piece of old carpeting...this confinement, surprisingly seemed to comfort people, soothing them. The walls were a surface to lean on or push against. For me the picture possibilities were interesting; limiting the subjects movements seemed to relieve me of part of the problem of holding onto them.' Irving Penn
Judy Annear, American beauty: from Muybridge to Goldin, Sydney, 2003. no catalogue numbers
American Beauty: from Muybridge to Goldin, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jun 2003–27 Jul 2003