Earthly Bodies.
Irving Penn's Nudes, 1949-50.


Photographs by Irving Penn. Text by Maria Morris Hambourg.
Bulfinch, New York, 2002. 96 pp., 53 tritone illustrations, 11x11½".

By the end of the 1940s, the young Irving Penn had already made a name for himself photographing for the top ladies' fashion magazines of the day. During 1949-50, in his spare time, Penn made arrangements to photograph several female artist's models in the nude. In the words of Maria Morris Hambourg, "The women Penn chose and the ways he viewed them produced nudes that were highly unorthodox by mid-twentieth-century standards: folded, twisted, and stretched, with extra belly, mounded hips, and puddled breasts, their fleshy torsos are sisters of Titian's and Rubens' Venus, while their mother in prodigality is the archaic fertility idol." These weighty images have rarely been seen, making their publication an important event.

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