Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Irving Penn, 1917-2009


Irving Penn, the man whose stark, minimalist black-and-white fashion images adorned the cover of Vogue for many years, died in October 2009 at the age of 92.

Born in 1917, Penn was a renowned celebrity fashion and portrait photographer. Beginning his artistic career as a painter and designer at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, he quickly transitioned into photography when he was offered a position as a fashion photographer for Vogue in the 1940s. Within a short period of time, Penn's modernist portraiture style landed him a cover spread, and, in 1953, he founded his own studio.

During World War II, Penn joined the military and spent time as a photographer in India. This later led to his work as a travel photographer. Penn's subjects were diverse, including New Guinea's "mud men," San Francisco hippies, and various actors, musicians and politicians. Some of his most famous portraits featured artists and musicians such as Miles Davis, Spencer Tracy, Marcel Duchamp, Igor Stravinsky, Georgia O'Keeffe and Pablo Picasso.