On January 16, 2019, Mina Image Centre will be launching its first exhibition “Untroubled” curated by Matthieu Humery and dedicated to one of the major photographers in the 20th century, Irving Penn, whose work will show for the first time in the Arab World. The exhibition will run till April 28, 2019.
Recognized as one of the masters of photography of the twentieth century, Irving Penn (1917-2009) is known for his striking images, masterful printmaking, and his pioneering work in both commercial and artistic photography.
Born in Plainfield, New Jersey to Russian parents, Penn attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts where he studied Graphics at the hands of his professor Alexey Brodovitch.
Brodovitch, who was the art director of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar between 1934 to 1958 hired Penn as a freelance designer. For the next two years, he worked as an office boy and apprentice artist sketching shoes. In search of his painterly talents, Penn took a gap year and traveled across Mexico in an effort to hone his skills as a painter.
Upon his return to New York, the art director of Vogue magazine Alexander Liberman’s hired Penn as his assistant, specifically to suggest photographic content for the covers of Vogue.
While many doubted his ideas, Penn was appointed by Liberman to work on one of the covers of Vogue. Using a borrowed camera, art background, and experience, Penn put together a still life composition consisting of a big brown leather bag, beige scarf and gloves, lemons, oranges, and a huge topaz.
Landing his first Vogue cover for the issue of October 1, 1943, Penn’s photographic career took off demonstrating his astonishing capability for work.mHis versatile creativeness and imagination in various fields allowed him to embark on a journey in editorial illustration, advertising, photojournalism, portraiture, still life, travel, and television.
Establishing his studio in New York in the 1950s, Penn continued to develop his personal, fashion, and commercial work for the rest of his life.
Passing away in 2009 at the age of ninety-two. Penn’s work is still widely exhibited around the world, and is held in significant collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; National Portrait Gallery, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, amongst others.
In 2013 The Irving Penn Foundation donated 100 images to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and in 2017 the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, presented a major retrospective exhibition of Irving Penn’s photographs to mark the centennial of the artist’s birth.
This landmark retrospective which opened in New York began its journey at the Grand Palais in Paris.
In 2017, while visiting Penn’s retrospective in Paris, writer, editor, actress, and director of Mina (port in Arabic) Image Centre, Manal Khader was intrigued by Penn’s oeuvres and decided to announce the opening of the non-profit organization, exhibition space and participatory platform based in Beirut, with his extraordinary bodies of work.
In collaboration with Pinault Collection, the home of four hundred photographs for Irving Penn and sponsored by Banque Libano-Française, the Mina Image Centre, will be launching their first exhibition “Untroubled” on January 16, 2019.
Acquired from “Resonance” an exhibition that took place at Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 2014, “Untroubled” consists of fifty photographs that combine the underlying development of styles, interests, and techniques used by Irving Penn throughout his entire career.
The exhibit will showcase nine of Penn’s series including Small Trades, Corner Portraits, Still Life, Hands of Miles Davis, Icons, Decompositions, Vanities, Cranium Architecture, and World Societies.
“Untroubled,” will be the highlight of the photography season in Lebanon. This exhibit is not a retrospective. Instead, it places equal emphasis on work that falls outside the realm of Penn’s famed fashion and portraiture for Vogue. By synthesizing almost seventy years of photography, it acquaints the viewers with the lucid and consistent flow of Penn’s work.
Succeeding in bringing Irving Penn is an achievement for Mina Image Centre, which was required to adjust its space to match the international parameters for hosting such an exhibition.
As an organization, the Mina Image Centre hopes to Bring other important photographers or artists to Lebanon. “I would like to see big artists from anywhere in the world in Lebanon, says Khader. “Why do I have to travel to see such work?”
Khader describes Penn’s work as evocative, and provocative. It is very consistent and holds a distinctive essence that is only true to his photographs.
“Untroubled” will open On January 16, 2019, at the Mina Image Centre, curated by Matthieu Humery The exhibition will run till April 28, 2019.