Irving Penn(1917-2009), Photographer
Artist of 30 portraits
Penn studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. He worked as art director of the department store Saks Fifth Avenue and spent a year painting in Mexico before joining the staff of Vogue in 1943 where, on the suggestion of its art director, Alexander Lieberman, he started working as a photographer. The following year he joined the U.S. Field Service on ambulance duty, and served with the British Army in Italy and India. After the war Penn returned immediately to Vogue, making fashion pictures, still lives, portraits and theatrical compositions. From 1953 he also worked from his own studio. Penn won many awards and his pictures are in numerous museums and permanent collections.
More on Penn: Timeline
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
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Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.