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Irving Penn’s Radical Beauty Exhibition: 1946-2007

Mouth (for L’Oréal), New York, 1986 Copyright by the Irving Penn Foundation via Departures

If you’re in San Francisco this summer and a fan of the late photographer Irving Penn (or heck, just a fan of art and beauty), you’ll definitely want to check out a new exhibit of his work. Opening today, the Fraenkel Gallery exhibit runs through August 20th. Departures Dispatch alerted us to the event and we continue to be captivated by Penn’s photograph above. Although Penn is known for his fashion portraiture, the exhibition will focus on his interpretation of beauty. In 2009, a Los Angeles Times photo slideshow accompanying his obituary wrote,

Penn was a purist who mistrusted perfect beauty, which brought an engaging tension to his fashion photographs as well as his still lifes and portraits. One of his best-known shots for Vogue in the 1950s shows an impeccably dressed model glancing sideways through a veil that covers her face, as if she wasn’t ready for her close-up. Lavish textures, the rich shadow and light became Penn’s trademark.”

I’m in favor of anyone that appreciates imperfections and finds beauty in unconventional ways. Perhaps selfishly, I’m also wishing this exhibition was in NYC instead of California. If you’re in the area and make it there this summer, let us know how it is!


The Fraenkel Gallery is located at 49 Geary St., 4th floor; 415-981-2661;