The Irving Penn Foundation
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Icons of Style:
A Century of Fashion Photography

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
June 23–September 22, 2019


Several of Irving Penn’s iconic photographs are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through September 22, 2019 in “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography.” The exhibition, organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and adapted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, explores the trajectory of fashion photography from a variety of photographic approaches.

Alongside more than 200 photographs by established photographers as well as lesser-known artists on display in the exhibition, the six Penn photographs made between 1947 and 2005 demonstrate his stylistic innovation in portraiture and fashion photography.

The striking Black and White Vogue Cover (Jean Patchett) and Harlequin Dress (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn) showcase Penn’s meticulous composition and emphasis on form enhanced by the white backdrop. Work from the photographer’s coverage of the autumn 1950 Paris couture collections is also included, in addition to his portrait of Jean Cocteau and group photograph of fashion models, where Penn’s use of light lends a dramatic character to the image.

In the history of fashion photography’s pursuit of recognition as an art form, Penn’s images not only demonstrate his mastery of composition, but also his insistence on elegance and style that redefined what fashion photography could be.

“Irving Penn: Paintings” Catalogue


Internationally renowned for his work as a photographer, Penn initially set out to be a painter and worked in the medium at the beginning and end of his career. Although some of Penn’s paintings were reproduced in books during his lifetime, this important body of work has remained largely unknown. 

Published to coincide with the first-ever exhibition of Irving Penn’s paintings, this 104-page hardcover catalogue features 47 illustrations, including 39 full-page reproductions, and the first scholarship on Penn’s painting practice. The selection of paintings, made between 1987 and 2006, highlights the artist’s approach to materials, form, and color.

Essays by writer and curator, David Campany, and legacy program manager at The Irving Penn Foundation, Alexandra Dennett; afterwords by Arne Glimcher, Pace Gallery founder, and Peter MacGill, Pace/MacGill Gallery founder.

Produced by Sandra M. Klimt, Klimt Studio, Inc. and designed by Malcolm Grear Designers, the printing is by Meridian Printing with four-color separations by Martin Senn. Published by Apparition, an imprint of The Irving Penn Foundation, in association with Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery.