They’ve collected over one hundred of Penn’s portraits, from Paris in 1947 to New York in 2007 and arranged them chronologically charting his changing interest from full body shots, to close ups, to shooting in corners to shooting in disguise.
Quotes from Penn like, “I invite the subject to the camera. I begin to search for an attitude, and then begin to expose film. I follow my plan through to what may be a dead end or to success…I have found that for me it is fatal to change directions radically in the middle of a sitting. I lose the subject,” frame each room and when you’re not looking at the walls, you can look at the original issues of Vogue from the 40s and 50s displayed in the center of each gallery.
I lingered in front of his portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli for a bit too long, and Penn’s shots of Dior and YSL are so iconic its hard to believe I’d never seen them in a museum setting before. There’s Cecil Beaton, Jacques Fath, Alexander Calder and of course, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn.
Fingers crossed it comes to New York, if not, you have until June 6th to make it to London.