Irving Penn’s Famous V-Shaped Set

Irving Penn has been hailed as one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century. His portraits and fashion photography have been internationally recognised and celebrated by critics and public alike.

Penn’s portraits are stylistically often very simplistic, but the character of the sitter is always given great importance. This is also evident in his fashion photographs, in which the models’ personalities often suffuse the image.

During the late 1940s Penn took a number of portraits of famous sitters sandwiched into this V-shaped set, the shape of which ingeniously leads the eye directly onto the subject. By pushing famous names such as Marlene Dietrich, Truman Capote and the Duchess of Windsor into such a tight space Penn squeezed out enhanced versions of their personalities through their exaggerated gestures and expressions.

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