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Apr 13 - Dec 31

Palazzo Grassi, Campo San Samuele 3231, Venice, , 30124, Italy
  • Truman Capote © Irving Penn / Irving Penn Foundation

  • Deep Sea Diver © Irving Penn / Irving Penn Foundation

  • Poppy Showgirl © Irving Penn / Irving Penn Foundation


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“Irving Penn: Resonance” exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, Venice

Palazzo Grassi presents the first ever major exhibition dedicated to Irving Penn (1917-2009) in Italy, titled “Irving Penn: Resonance”, in collaboration with the François Pinault Foundation. The exhibition, which is curated by Pierre Apraxine and Matthieu Humery, brings together 130 photographs, taken between the end of the 1940s and the mid-1980s, and has as a goal to cast a light on the creative universe of the celebrated American photographer, putting relatively unknown images side-by-side with the most iconic ones. The showcase starts with the “small series”, taken in France, England and the United States in the 1950s, where Penn captures newspaper men, street vendors, rag dealers, chimney sweeps, all in their work clothes. It’s his particular attempt to immortalize their trades, convinced that they would eventually disappear. The exhibit continues with a series of portraits, taken between the 1950s and the 1970s, of celebrities from the world of art, cinema and literature, including Pablo Picasso, Truman Capote, Marcel Duchamp and Marlene Dietrich, which reveal Penn’s flawless elegance and composed simplicity. The next step is Penn’s ethnographic photographs of the people of Dahomey (from the 1960s) and of tribesmen from New Guinea and Morocco (from the 1960s and 1970s) that have a strong existential charge and underline the brevity of human existence. The exhibition also features Penn’s still life photography from the late 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, composed of cigarette ends, fruit dishes, vanitas as well as animal skulls photographed at the Narodni National Museum in Prague, in 1986, for the series “Cranium Architecture”.

“Irving Penn: Resonance” offers an extensive view on the various facets of the iconic photographer and covers his favorite themes, which, beyond their apparent diversity, all reveal the photographer’s constant questioning of the meaning of time, of life and of its fragility. At the same time, it enables us to come nearer to the truth of things and people by covering Penn’s creative process, from the studio to the printing (to which he dedicated a lot of attention and unprecedented care). Part of the photographs that are on display comes from Kuniko Nomura’s collection, which was assembled in the 1980s with the help of Irving Penn himself. “Irving Penn: Resonance” will be on view on the second floor of Palazzo Grassi, Venice, from April 13 through December 31, 2014. A definite no-miss for all photography lovers out there!