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.