The Puzzle of Irving Penn
“I’m a surprisingly limited photographer,” Penn insisted to me, “and I’ve learned not to go beyond my capacity. I’ve tried a few times to depart from what I know I can do, and I’ve failed.” Yet it is difficult to deny that Penn was the supreme studio photographer of the twentieth century. His artistry both emerged from and depended on his very specific, highly aestheticized commercial work. By Martin Filler.