Appreciation: The Photos of Irving Penn

Irving Penn / Morgan Library & Museum

Truman Capote, New York, 1948
Irving Penn was one of the 20th century's most influential and prolific photographers. During a career spanning more than a half-century, most of it spent at Vogue, he photographed many of the world's leading lights in austere and arresting poses. In the portrait of Truman Capote, above, Penn employed a stunt he used often in the 1940s: to position his subject in an enclosed, angular space. "This confinement surprisingly seemed to comfort people," Penn noted, "It soothed them. The walls were a surface to lean on or push against."

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