Irving Penn - Photographs New York Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    The Famous Photographers School
    The FPS Archives

  • Literature

    Look, 1963

  • Catalogue Essay

    Founded in 1961, the Famous Photographers School was the foremost institution in mid-century America for teaching photography, then relatively nascent as a lucrative profession. Drawing from the undeniable star-power of ten of the most prolific and successful photographers at the time, from Richard Avedon to Philippe Halsman, Bert Stern, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Irving Penn, to name some of the more salient members, the school purported to help its students “achieve professional-level skill.” Quoting the age-old adage, an ad for the talented hub stated “If you want success, learn from successful people.” And while the success of the photographers was without dispute, their strengths were varied, as evidenced by the solid body of work—from commercial to editorial—that each photographer had produced by then. Indeed, the ten photographers—many of whom would see their star continue to shine brighter over the ensuing decades—collectively mastered a broad and comprehensive variety of skills that exposed their students to such genres as editorial still-life compositions, political portraits, fashion imagery, celebrity photography, darkroom manipulation and action shots, among others.

    The camaraderie and cohesive nature of the exceptional group of trailblazers is best captured in Irving Penn’s Self-portrait with Famous Photographers, January, 1964 (lot 159). At the behest of the School’s advertising agency, the ten photographers assembled for a group shot intended for promotional purposes. Taken on January 25, 1964, the image had been months in the making, with the School’s Director, Victor Keppler, orchestrating the shoot in Bert Stern’s studio. It was decided that each photographer would take his turn shooting the group, reflected in an oversized custom mirror that had been brought in specifically for the occasion. Penn’s take with his 8x10 View Camera ended up being the final shot, selected for the photographer’s revered elegance in capturing the likeness and spirit of his peers. Indeed, Self-portrait with Famous Photographers marks a rare and a most exciting moment in the history of photography, when ten of the most talented and revered photographers in the world united for a wondrous spark.

  • 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. 

    View More Works


French Horseman

Gelatin silver print.
9 1/8 x 6 3/8 in. (23.2 x 16.2 cm)
Credit stamp on the reverse of the mount; 'Famous Photographers Schools', 'Original Art' and 'Please Return to Art Archives' stamps on board affixed to the reverse of the mat.

$6,000 - 8,000 

Sold for $5,000

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New York Auction 1 October