Portrait of Pablo Picasso by Irving Penn | 1917-2009
“He didn’t worry about questions of art versus commerce,” said Colin Westerbeck, a former photography curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, which owns a large collection of Penn’s work. “Photography is a mass medium available to anyone. A few geniuses, like Irving Penn, redeem it.”
“There is the famous story of Irving photographing a lemon,” Babs Simpson, a former Vogue fashion editor, said in 1990 in Vanity Fair.
“First, you had to buy 500 lemons for him to pick the perfect one. Then he had to take 500 shots of that lemon until he got the perfect one.”
The results were what counted, Penn’s longtime boss at Vogue, Alexander Lieberman, told Vanity Fair. “A Penn photograph,” he said, “will always be a great photograph.”