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  1. #1

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    Discuss an Irving Penn photograph

    If you consider Adams work the pinnacle of landscape imagery and Bresson the originator of the decisive moment genre then Penn has to be considered as the master commercial photography.

    B&W or color, portraits, fashion or products, he set the bar for all who would follow.

    Trained early in life as a painter, his work usually transcends the medium and redefined what can be considered art in photography. He worked across all formats and processes and his subjects were as varied as native tribal peoples of New Guinea, fashion work for magazines such as Vogue and discarded cigarette buts and packs which he transformed from trash to things of beauty.

    Anyway, here is something fairly recent. Beauty Treatment with Gauze Mask, New York (1997)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IPenn1D.jpg  
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

  2. #2
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of Irving Penn as well, and agree with much of what the above poster stated. I will add, I think his still life work is incredible. The gutter trash... there are some cigarette butts... I mean... who else could have made such incredible images of something as inocuous and ignored as a cigarette butt found in the gutter?

    Not to mention the skulls!

    Edited to add... sorry, didn't discuss this photograph! Looks like those skulls, huh? Thanks for posting, Jim!

  3. #3
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Nice, three posts and all of them talking about Penn instead of the picture

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
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  4. #4
    djklmnop's Avatar
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    Tell me more about Sean Penn. I hear he's a great actor!
    Money is not the problem. The problem is, I don't have any.

  5. #5
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjorke
    Nice, three posts and all of them talking about Penn instead of the picture
    Its different; its daring.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by bjorke
    Nice, three posts and all of them talking about Penn instead of the picture
    so what's your contribution

    this image is a poor example of Penn's work, it's well lit, maybe, but not particularly interesting

  7. #7
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjorke
    Nice, three posts and all of them talking about Penn instead of the picture
    Point taken...

    it actually is a rather disturbing image. What sort of torturous device is that wrapped around this face? I'm guessing it's some kind of intense beauty treatment, but it has the look of prisoners' being blindfolded. And, as said before, it reminds me of some of his skull images. All the beauty treatments in the world won't change what is at the core of every face.

  8. #8
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    The photograph: In a word, disturbing! I see what is an incredibly UGLY face, and can only wonder at the woman beneath this grotesque mask.
    I "read" a statement questioning the value of the ordeals some models - and non-models (if there ARE "non-models") endure - other than this particular "mask" procedure. Case in point: another procedure - plastic surgery, and how a - bordering on psychotic - quest for the "perfect" facial configuration WILL result in - after ten or twenty attempts - unnaturally bizarre results - see Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers.
    After these flights of thought, I've landed. The true beauty lies in nature, and simplicity. Instead of insanely trying to pursue perfection, I will appreciate, and USE the so-called "imperfections", not only of my models, but in the rest of my work as well.
    BRAVO, Mr. Penn, BRAVO!
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  9. #9

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    I found it interesting because it reminded me of many of the tribal masks worn by native peoples he photographed in the 50s and 60s. I simply liked the texture of the mask (looks almost like burlap) and the smoothness of the "mud" that Penn probably added to define a mouth and nose. Its that wonderful texture and hollow eye sockets (and whispy bits of hair?) that makes it interesting.

    If you look at his work with Aboriginal peoples, masks and such adornments were considered beautiful and a sign of status and position in the group.
    Here we see the mask as an ugly artifact that somehow will metamorphasize the person underneath. This mask is designed to facilitate covering up something (self percieved ugliness?). Aboriginal masks project an inner personna of the person wearing it. Two different cultures and two different ways to look at masks, hiding something or projecting something.
    Last edited by Jim Chinn; 09-10-2006 at 11:33 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

  10. #10
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne Revy
    it actually is a rather disturbing image. What sort of torturous device is that wrapped around this face? I'm guessing it's some kind of intense beauty treatment, but it has the look of prisoners' being blindfolded. And, as said before, it reminds me of some of his skull images. All the beauty treatments in the world won't change what is at the core of every face.
    Maybe it was a satirical comment on the lengths people go to to achieve youthfull beauty.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

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