Irving Penn: Centennial

& others. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Apr. 2017. 372p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781588396181. $70. PHOTOG
OrangeReviewStarThere is no dearth of books about the life and art of Irving Penn (1917–2009). WorldCat catalog shows almost 100 titles by or about the remarkable mid-20th-century fashion photographer and portraitist. This major retrospective catalog, accompanying the exhibition of the same name at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, including more than 200 plates, is stunning. Penn's career spanned the 1940s through the first decade of the 21st century, during which he produced sophisticated fashion photography, impressions of celebrities and cultural icons, and still life studies. Standouts include his portraits of the peoples of Peru, Benin, New Guinea, and Morocco, images that suggest ethnographic studies are actually elegant fashion photos. His images of zaftig female nudes anticipated the body positive movement, but were too outré for 1950 when they were made.
VERDICT With hundreds of photographs from every phase of Penn's career, together with informative essays on his life and work by Hambourg and other Met curators, this title's quality of the printing does justice to the superb caliber of Penn's originals.

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