Photographer Irving Penn , one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century , has dies aged 92 . His pictures showed a stark simplicity whether he was shooting celebrity portraits, fashion, still life or remote places of the world. The death was announced by his photo assistant, Roger Krueger. Penn, who constantly explored the photographic medium and its boundaries, typically preferred to isolate his subjects — from fashion models to Aborigine tribesmen — from their natural settings to photograph them in a studio against a stark background. He believed the studio could most closely capture their true natures.
Between 1964 and 1971, he completed seven such projects, his subjects ranging from New Guinea mud men to San Francisco hippies. Penn also had a fascination with still life and produced a dramatic range of images that challenged the traditional idea of beauty, giving dignity to such subjects as cigarette butts, decaying fruit and discarded clothing. A 1977 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art presented prints of trash rescued from Manhattan streets and photographed, lovingly, against plain backgrounds.
“Photographing a cake can be art,” he said at the 1953 opening of his studio, where he continued to produce commercial and gallery work into the 21st century.
Penn’s career began in the 1940s as a fashion photographer for Vogue, and he continued to contribute to the magazine for decades thereafter. He stumbled into the job almost by accident, when he abandoned his early ambition to become a painter and took a position as a designer in the magazine’s art department in 1943. Staff photographers balked at his unorthodox layout ideas, and a supervisor asked him to photograph a cover design.
The resulting image, on the Oct. 1, 1943, cover of Vogue, was a striking still-life showing a brown leather bag, a beige scarf, gloves, oranges and lemons arranged in the shape of a pyramid. In subsequent photographs for the magazine, Penn further developed his austere style that placed models and fashion accessories against clean backdrops. It was a radical departure at a time when most fashion photographers posed their subjects with props and in busy settings that tended to draw attention from the clothes themselves.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is to undergo a major revamp, a scheme entitled Portrait of a Nation, which will “renovate and rejuvenate” the gallery in a plan that has already gained Â£5.1m from the Scottish Government. The Grade A-listed building in the New Town on Queen Street was erected as the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery, opening in 1889 after being designed by architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, but much of its space remains unused and unseen to the public.The Portrait of the Nation scheme will open up and restore large areas of the building in order to create 50% more gallery space.
A range of new services for visitors, including an education suite, learning centre and improved restaurant and shop, will be joined by new displays and exhibitions and all three floors of the building will be refurbished to better show the body of 30,000 works that is in its collection.
The gallery closes next week, marked by a Farewell Festival on April 4 and 5, and will reopen in 2011 – in the meantime Â£6m needs to be found to complete the redevelopment, while some of its more famous works will be shown in the National Gallery and the Dean Gallery.
A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grantÂ of Â£4.4 million will go towards the Â£17.6m cost of the project, which aims to double gallery space and visitor numbers.
The renovated building will have a dedicated education suite, auditorium, IT gallery and research centre.
The revamp is expected to take up to two-and-a-half years. The gallery will close on Sunday so the work can begin.
The building which houses Scotland’s national portrait collection opened in 1889, and has been described as an architectural masterpiece.
The renovation project, called Portrait of the Nation, will increase the number of items displayed by 350%, allowing the gallery to display many more of its 30,000 portraits and photographs.
A tinplate portrait of Baroness Thatcher has divided politicians after it was unveiled at the home of the Welsh assembly in Cardiff.
The work by artist Dylan Hammond will sit alongside one of Labour figure Aneurin Bevan for three months.
Mr Hammond said both politicians had had influence on Welsh life and it was “up to people how they respond”.
But one Plaid Cymru assembly member called the Thatcher portrait’s location “an insult” to the people of Wales.
Each portrait, measuring 4.3m x 3m (14ft x 9ft 10in), hangs against the Â£67m Senedd building’s glass facade so that it can be seen inside and outside.
Mr Hammond, who is based in Cardiff, said he put the founder of the NHS and the former Conservative prime minister together because “in a way, they represent a kind of polarity in a spectrum of political approach”. add your comments in the art forum