Paul Greenfield MFA, ARPS

Irving Penn (1917 - 2009)

Referred to by John Szarkowski in "Mirrors and Windows"
Penn worked for three years as a freelance designer and made his first amateur photographs before taking Brodovitch's position as the art director at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1940. Penn remained at Saks Fifth Avenue for a year before leaving to spend a year painting and taking photographs in Mexico and across the US. When Penn returned to New York, Alexander Liberman offered him a position as an associate in the Vogue magazine Art Department. Penn worked on the layout for the magazine before Liberman asked him to try photography.[5]

Penn's first photographic cover for Vogue magazine appeared in October 1943. The art department of the Office of War Information in London offered him a job as an "artist-photographer" but he volunteered with the American Field Service instead.[6] After arriving in Naples with a boatload of American troops in November 1944. Penn drove an ambulance in support of the British Eighth Army as it alternately waited out weather and slogged its way north through a miserable winter in the Italian Apennines. In July 1945, he was transferred from Italy to India. He photographed the soldiers, medical operations, camp life for the AFS, and various subjects while bivouacked in India. He sailed back to New York in November 1945.

Penn continued to work at Vogue throughout his career, photographing covers, portraits, still lifes, fashion, and photographic essays. In the 1950s, Penn founded his own studio in New York and began making advertising photographs. Over the years, Penn's list of clients grew to include General Foods, De Beers, Issey Miyake, and Clinique.

Penn met Swedish fashion model Lisa Fonssagrives at a photoshoot in 1947.[8][9] In 1950, the two married at Chelsea Register Office, and two years later Lisa gave birth to their son, Tom Penn, who would go on to become a metal designer. Lisa Fonssagrives died in 1992. Penn died aged 92 on October 7, 2009, at his home in Manhattan.
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