Irving Penn, ‘Mascara Wars, New York’, April 17-2001, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
“Mascara is not small business and brushes sell mascara. Companies spend millions of dollars developing breakthrough technology, and we were reporting on the latest ‘Mascara War’ between two of the giants. The model’s eyes were closed for two hours while Penn photographed every possible variation of the dueling brushes. He had a picture that wasn’t especially exciting or memorable, but there was nothing that he hadn’t tired. Still standing behind his 6 x 8 cm camera, he said, ‘Thank you. We’re all finished.’ Our model opened her eyes, and I saw that they were completely bloodshot. Penn said, ‘Don’t move.’ He did just two or three more exposures. Here was the shock that was missing. Then we were finished.” —Phyllis Posnick, Executive Fashion Editor, Vogue

A true legend, Irving Penn transformed twentieth-century studio photography. Working across numerous photographic processes, diverse cultures, and distinctive subjects, each and every photograph by Penn is rendered with elegant simplicity and supreme beauty. We are delighted this season to offer an exciting selection of works by Irving Penn that pay homage to his brilliance, range, and unwavering vision. Featuring Small Trades, Vogue editorials, still-lifes, and arresting portraits, this selection spans just over 50 years of Penn’s career and includes photographs taken in New York, Paris, Cannes, Morocco, and New Guinea. Masterfully employing several photographic mediums throughout his lifetime, Penn was an exquisite printmaker, a fact reflected in the diversity of mediums on offer here, including; platinum palladium, gelatin silver, dye destruction, and Fujicolor Crystal Archive.

For additional works by Irving Penn, see lots 241, 298, 311-313, 317, 350, and 351.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Signed, titled, dated twice and initialed twice in pencil, credit, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the reverse of the flush-mount. One from an edition of 15.

Vogue, July 2001, pp. 160-161
Posnick, Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue, pp. 220-221

Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
Christie's, New York, 5 April 2013, lot 264

About Irving Penn

Considered one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, Irving Penn photographed a host of important writers, visual artists, and cultural figures in his lifetime (including Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, John Cage, Truman Capote, and Louise Bourgeois) as well as producing images for Vogue, Chanel, and other major fashion mainstays. Known for his pared-down compositional style, Penn often photographed his subjects in the natural light of the studio using minimal props; his fashion images were marked by their austerity, sophistication, and tonal subtleties. Penn also photographed workers his series “Small Trades” (1950–51), depicting laborers in New York, Paris, and London posed in work clothes and holding the tools of their trade. Caught in both black and white and color, Penn’s iconic images are known for the honesty and humanity he brought to his subjects.

American, 1917-2009, Plainfield, New Jersey, based in New York, New York

Solo Shows

Masters Projects, 
Irving Penn: Women, Warriors
Irving Penn: Cranium Architecture
Irving Penn: Cigarettes
View Artist's CV