Irving Penn - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • One of the principal fashion photographers of our age, Irving Penn spent his career documenting the worlds of couture and beauty in his own highly innovative and elegant style. Penn mastered the existing vocabulary of fashion photography early on and then expanded upon it to create a new ideal, in many instances redefining what constituted beauty in a photograph. In Contact Lens, New York, Penn presents an unconventional view of a beautifully maquillaged eye about to receive a color contact lens. Playful and technically brilliant, Penn’s photograph shows us the unglamourous reality lurking behind the perfect look. 

    • Literature

      Art Institute of Chicago, Irving Penn: A Career in Photography, p. 109, pl. 59, Cat. No. 126
      Szarkowski, Irving Penn, pl. 101

    • 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


Contact Lens, New York

Dye transfer print, printed 1984.
19 1/4 x 15 1/2 in. (48.9 x 39.4 cm)
Signed, initialed twice, titled, dated, annotated in ink, credit, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the reverse of the mount. One from an edition of 17.

Full Cataloguing

$20,000 - 30,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023