What I yearn for as a photographer is someone who will connect the work of photographers to that of sculptors and painters of the past. –Irving Penn
Spanning from 1939 to the early 2000s, the works in this exhibition is accompanied by rarely seen archival materials and preparatory sketches, which articulate Irving Penn’s notion of “photographism.” Though trained as a painter, Irving Penn (1917–2009) began working as a photographer in the 1940s for high-fashion magazines, notably Vogue, one of the few platforms where experimental photography could be shown at the time. Integrating the printed page of the magazine while also distinguishing itself from this ground, Penn’s work radically modernized various genres of photography, including still life, portraiture, and editorial fashion photography. His unique stylistic approach – what Penn termed his “photographism” – consisted in a formal distillation that drew from print media’s typography and graphic design, as well as the fine arts of drawing, painting, and sculpture, among others.