Irving Penn - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 1, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    Angeletti and Oliva, In Vogue, pp. 368-369

  • Catalogue Essay

    The renowned 18th-century Italian sculptor Antonio Canova, celebrated by his peers as “the supreme minister of beauty”, once mused, “I have read that the ancients, when they produced a sound, used to modulate it, heightening and lowering its pitch without departing from the rules of harmony. So must the artist do in working at the nude.” Accordingly, Canova’s marble female nudes are noted for their Neoclassical features—soft contours, ample curves and graceful lines. Neoclassical painters from the early 1800s, most notably Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Jacques-Louis David, likewise accentuated the curvaceous form of their female subjects, eschewing full frontality in favor of a playful side view that allowed for the prominent yet elegant positioning of the model’s hips and buttocks. By doing so, the artists allowed their subjects to demurely return the gaze of the viewers, aware of their nudity but retaining some level of modesty.

    Irving Penn’s nudes of supermodels in the 1990s, be it of Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Amber Valetta, or as seen in the current lot, millennial favorite Kate Moss, was the culmination of a lifetime’s dedication to studying the female form. While Penn’s nudes from the late 1940s are cropped abstractions of voluptuous female models, his nudes from the 1990s are notably Neoclassical. In the current lot, Moss is seen with her back turned to the camera but twisting her torso enough to engage the viewers. Penn’s soft lighting accentuates her tender skin and her rounded hips, imbuing the fashion icon with a sculptural quality that far transcends the era in which the photograph was taken.

  • 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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Kate Moss, New York

Platinum palladium print, printed 1997.
16 3/4 x 16 5/8 in. (42.5 x 42.2 cm)
Signed, titled, dated, numbered 7/16 in pencil and 'Condé Nast' copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on reverse of the flush-mount.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs

Shlomi Rabi
Head of Sale, New York

General Enquiries:
+1 212 940 1245


New York Auction 1 October