Saturday, October 17, 2009

good for the brain (try a bag)

Photographed by Vogue Fashion Photographer Irving Penn (who passed away earlier this month) in Paris, London and New York from 1950 to 1951, Small Trades is Penn's "most extensive body of work" which he revisited and reprinted over the decades. According to the LA Times Penn switched from gelatin silver prints in the 1950s to platinum printing in the 1960s:

In silver prints, light-sensitive particles are suspended in emulsion that sits on the paper's surface. In platinum prints, light-sensitive emulsion is absorbed into the paper's weave.

The former are darker, more brittle, emphasizing silhouettes. They underscore the pictorial image.

The latter are richer, more subtle and luxurious. Platinum prints stress the physical art object.

His subjects are tradesmen and women. A coal man, a chamois man, firemen, charwomen, a sculptor's model, a Rockette, a seamstress, a commis (Parisian busboy), ballroom dancing instructors, a milkman, a road sweeper, a chestnut seller.

Shot against an old theatre curtain, chiefly in natural light, in full majestic dignity.

Irving Penn: Small Trades
9 September 2009 - 10 January 2010
at the Getty Center in LA

See the New York Times feature on the exhibit »

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