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Irving Penn (1971):


Since the early 1960s, American photographer Irving Penn (born 1917) has made a limited number of platinum prints of his most celebrated photographs. This exhibition will present some 83 platinum prints given by Penn to the National Gallery of Art in 2002. Featured will be many of Penn's best works, including his portraits of Pablo Picasso, David Smith, Saul Steinberg, and Marcel Duchamp; studies of indigenous peoples in New Guinea and Peru; provocative still lifes; and influential fashion studies.

Penn's gift to the Gallery, and the organization of the exhibition, is based on a series of 17 photographic collages entitled Platinum Test Materials. A meticulous craftsman, Penn has experimented extensively to make prints with remarkably subtle, rich tonal ranges and luxurious textures. Each of the Platinum Test Materials consists of six to ten randomly arranged test strips that Penn made prior to creating his finished platinum prints. The corresponding finished prints make up the rest of the exhibition. With their odd juxtapositions and rough quality, the Platinum Test Materials provide a provocative new way to approach Penn's work.



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