Irving Penn - Photographs Evening Sale New York Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
    Jane Corkin Gallery, Toronto

  • Literature

    Knopf/Callaway, Irving Penn: Passage, A Work Record, p. 222
    Szarkowski, Irving Penn, p. 70

  • Catalogue Essay

    As a budding photographer at Vogue under the tutelage of Alexander Liberman in 1943, Irving Penn was tasked with sketching and ultimately staging and photographing the first would-be still life cover for the magazine. The cover, released on October 1943 (i) featured an assortment of ladies’ accessories arranged with a Cubist sensibility: the layering of text and objects, the flattening of depth and the conflation of two and three dimensional objects. The cover was successfully received, and Penn subsequently joined the ranks of Vogue’s most revered photographers.

    Throughout his career, Penn would return to the subject of still-life with a variety of objects—from cigarettes to liqueurs, flora, apples, diamond, bones, and as seen in the current lot, frozen food. The genre presented a set of challenges for Penn, who from his early days chose to challenge aesthetic conventions. Penn’s approach, it seems, was to strip the object from its expected surrounding and re-present it in an innovative way, most often against a stark white background. This simplicity allowed Penn to focus on form, line, texture and volume. In the current lot, Penn eschewed traditional depiction of produce—be it on a plate or in a bowl—and arranged blocks of frozen food with a deeply architectural undertone. Each block presents its own texture, color and shape. The seemingly haphazard composition is cohesive and harmonious, transforming an otherwise ordinary subject into a fresh, contemporary and abstract sculptural configuration.

  • Artist Biography

    Irving Penn

    American • 1917 - 2009

    Arresting portraits, exquisite flowers, luscious food and glamorous models populate Irving Penn's meticulously rendered, masterful prints. Penn employed the elegant simplicity of a gray or white backdrop to pose his subjects, be it a model in the latest Parisian fashion, a famous subject or veiled women in Morocco.

    Irving Penn's distinct aesthetic transformed twentieth-century elegance and style, with each brilliant composition beautifully articulating his subjects. Working across several photographic mediums, Penn was a master printmaker. Regardless of the subject, each and every piece is rendered with supreme beauty. 

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Frozen Foods, New York

Dye transfer print, printed 1984.
23 1/8 x 18 in. (58.7 x 45.7 cm)
Signed, titled, dated, initialed twice in ink, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation, credit and edition stamps on the reverse of the mount. One from an edition of 33.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $106,250

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs

Shlomi Rabi
Head of Sale, New York

General Enquiries:
+1 212 940 1245

Photographs Evening Sale

New York 1 April 2015 6pm