Exhibiting the work of Irving Penn to mark the opening of a new center for contemporary image production is a mission statement, one that embraces the history of photography and
Exhibiting the work of Irving Penn to mark the opening of a new center for contemporary image production is a mission statement, one that embraces the history of photography and the work of the late masters while looking to the future. Penn’s work is a monument of epic artistic resilience, a major reference for contemporary photography and an endless source of inspiration for generations to come.
All the photographs that appear in this exhibition are drawn from the Pinault Collection. Although in date they span more than four decades, they are presented not as a retrospective but are loosely arranged by subject.
Penn was first and foremost a studio photographer. His photographs, with their simple backdrops of paper, canvas, or bare wall, establish a spatial container at once formal and insular. Whether haute couture, still life, ethnography, or memento mori, the image is decontextualized, intense and demanding of attention.
Penn’s subjects appear at first glance to be quite disparate – celebrities, skulls, cigarette butts. But removed from their natural environment and with an unflinching focus on their materiality, they achieve a democratic leveling that is the signature of Penn’s style. Each subject is equal under his gaze, a quiet yet insistent intruder into the neutral space of the studio.
January 16 (Wednesday) - April 28 (Sunday)
MINA IMAGE CENTRE
Stone Gardens bldg, Darwich Haddad St, Port District, Beirut, Lebanon