Irving Penn Dies at 92: Pioneer of Modern Fashion, Portrait and Still-Life Photography

Irving Penn, 1960s

Kate Moss, 1996

Kate Moss, 1996

Vogue, Fashion Photograph (Café in Lima), Peru, 1948

Salvadore Dali, New York, 1947

Truman Capote, New York City, 1948

Collette, Paris, 1951

Jean Cocteau, Paris, 1948

Nicole Kidman, Vogue Magazine, May, 2004

Irving Penn Dies at 92: Pioneer of Modern Fashion, Portrait and Still-Life Photography

Irving Penn, a renowned master of American fashion photography whose more simple aesthetic, combined with an often startling erotic sensuality, defined a visual style that he applied to such varied subjects as  fashion design, celebrity portraits and everyday objects, many of them now-famous photographs owned by leading art museums, has died at the age of 92.  In 1943, Penn started contributing to Vogue magazine, becoming one of the first commercial photographers to cross the schism that had separated commercial from art photography.  He did so in part by using the same technique no matter what he photographed: isolating his subject, allowing for scarcely a prop and building a work of graphic perfection through his printing process.  Art critics considered the results to be icons, not just images, each one more artistically powerful than the person or object in the frame.

A notorious perfectionist, he traveled widely, carrying his own studio to the ends of the earth to photograph Peruvians in native dress, veiled Moroccan women or the Mudmen of New Guinea.  Despite his appreciation for the art and craft of beautifully designed fashion, Penn later reached outside of the unreachable world it represents.  To escape or perhaps contest it, in the late 1960s he started photographing crushed cigarette butts and street debris.  He shot the cigarette butts in the same manner that he often photographed fashionable designer dresses, close up, with an intense graphic precision, against a white background.  He then built his negatives into “platinum-palladium” prints, a meticulous and expensive process that involves repeated printings of a negative on one piece of paper to create an extraordinary sense of depth and richness.  New York’s Museum of Modern Art found the cigarette butts exhibit-worthy in 1975. Far-sighted reviewers praised Penn’s ability to turn discarded objects into art, but the contradictions in his work still bothered some critics.

In 1950, while in Paris he went from a session of photographing the Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti to photographing French butchers.  His collection of more than 250 photos of butchers, bakers, street workers and others in the series entitled The Small Trades, was acquired last year by the J. Paul Getty Museum and is on view now through January 10th.

A Tribute: The Photography of Irving Penn

Slide Show: Irving Penn/A Pioneer of Modern Fashion, Portrait and Still-Life Photography

(Please Click on Image to View Slide Show)

Readers can read more about the life and accomplishments of Irving Penn in The New York Times here, and in The Los Angeles Times here.

Reader’s can access a wonderful audio-slide show of Irving Penn’s series entitled The Small Trades, which is presently on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum here.

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My Articles for Friday, June 15, 2007

Reade Seligmann testified how he was sure that the DNA tests would clear his name. He broke into tears during his testimony, while he described finding out that he had been indicted and thinking about how he was going to manage breaking that terrible news to his mother. Immediately following the conclusion of Seligmann’s testimony, Nifong voluntarily resigned as the Durham County Prosecutor.

The full video is included.

[tags: Duke Lacrosse players, Duke rape case, Reade Seligmann, Nifong, Nifong ethics trial, Nifong resigns, video]

“Mike Gravel for President: Or Maybe Just Take a Fireside Nap….”

Humorous presidential campaign ad for Mike Gravel. Video is included. Nice for fireside chats, or maybe naps!!

[tags: blogs, Mike Gravel, presidential campaign ads, television, humor, video]

“Steven Colbert: On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

“The only thing worse than an al Qaeda attack would be a gay man stopping that,” quipped discharged gay military linguist Stephen Benjamin to Steven Colbert. And that pretty much sums up the core of the stupendously ignorant Republican position on gay people, as stated in the official military personnel policy regarding the Iraq war on terror.

Photographs and Comedy Central video included.

[tags: Steven Colbert, gay, gay pride, military policy, television, video]

“Michael Moore’s “Sicko:”

Michael Moore does it again!! His new documentary motion picture “Sicko” was the smash hit of The 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Photographs and video are included.

[tags: celebrities, news, celebrity news, Michael Moore, Sicko, movies, video, photography]

Paul Potts, the mobil-phone salesman from South Wales, once again roused the audience members and stunned judges of the talent show “Britain’s Got Talent “with his rendition of another opera classic.

Later, it was announced that he is the winner of this round, moving on to become a finalist in the competition that is searching for an act that will perform in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance. In addition, the winner will receive a prize of $250,000. That’s a lot of cell-phones!!

Photographs and two videos are included. Enjoy this!!

[tags: Paul Potts, Simon Cowell, celebrities, music, music video, video, YouTube]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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“Sicko” from Michael Moore

Michael Moore’s Sicko: The 2007 Cannes Film Festival Smash Hit!

Michael Moore’s “Sicko”

(Click Image for Video)

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My Articles for Thursday, June 14, 2007

“Goths: Taking the Human Condition for Granted.”

A discussion of a goth persective on living. A music video by London at Night is included.

[tags: goth, goths, music, music video, dailymotion, social, cultural]

“Virginia Tech Killings Report Issued: But Why are President Bush and His Aides Smiling about It?”

President Bush receives a copy of the Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy, on Wednesday, June 13, 2007, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. From left in the picture are, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, the President, and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Again, but why are they all smiling? Gross. Very, very gross.

[tags: Virginia Tech killings, Virginia Tech shootings, student killings, President Bush, Virginia Tech Report, Cho, Sueng Lui Cho]

“Victory in Massachusetts!”

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Boston Globe reports this morning that a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which has been advanced by social conservatives, was soundly defeated today by a joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature. The vote was vote 45 to 151, eliminating any chance of getting it on the ballot in November 2008.

[tags: gay, gay rights, gay pride, GLBT, rights, freedom, Massachusetts]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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Goth: Taking the Human Condition for Granted

Gas Town Goth

Mikita Barthman wrote in today’s edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Although they may look scary, goths tend to be unusually tolerant and peace loving.  It’s a truism that, despite their fringe status, rejection of social norms, and interest in death, most of those who dress in goth styles tend to be shy and withdrawn, though not necessarily depressed.  Anyone can be a goth; you don’t need to run in a pack (goths are traditionally loners).  And, as teenage subcultures go, it’s unusually quiet and friendly.  Goths are generally hygienic; their piercings are clean and discreet; they don’t stick dirty safety pins through their noses or ride around on motorbikes spitting and swearing.

Goth’s consistent popularity does not mean, as some curmudgeons assume, that young people today are becoming increasingly nihilistic and alienated.  Anyone who feels that way doesn’t understand the essence of goth, which is really all about self-acceptance, self-expression, and creativity.  Taking for granted the misery of the human condition, goth turns depression into an aesthetic, a semi-ironic pose — a perfect style for the awkward and self-conscious.  Pale makeup, for both sexes, perfectly conceals bad complexions; goth clothing tends to cover, rather than display.  And although its dark style was originally taken up as a backlash to the colorful disco music of the 70s, it may, in the end, be goth’s most successful feature.  After all, who doesn’t look good in black?”

London after Midnight: Kiss

Some might experience this as somewhat “jolting.”  It’s, as I myself don’t really like to put it, an intriguing perspective, and certainly deserves further thought and commentary.  So, for the time being please consider this a draft posting, which will receive further elaboration later.  Accordingly, at this point the piece is not being publicized.

However, for now, interested readers will find the entire version of Mikita Barthman’s essay at The Chronicle for Higher Education.

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Victory in Massachusetts!!

Celebrations outside of the Massachussets State House in Boston on June 14, 2007.  A special convening of the Congress made a nationally historic vote to kill a referendum that would have placed the Gay Marriage issue on the ballot in 2008.  Photography by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Boston Globe reported this morning that:

A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that had been advanced by social conservatives was soundly defeated today by a joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature by a vote of 45 to 151, eliminating any chance of getting it on the ballot in November 2008.  At least 50 votes were needed to advance the measure.  The vote came after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray and Governor Deval Patrick conferred this morning and concluded that they had enough votes to kill the proposal.

The three leaders, along with gay rights activists, spent the last several days intensely lobbying a dozen or more state representatives and state senators who had previously supported the amendment, but who had later indicated that they were open to changing their positions.  Since fewer than 50 of the state’s 200 lawmakers supported the amendment, it will not appear on the 2008 ballot, giving gay marriage advocates a major victory in their battle with social conservatives to keep same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” said a victorious Gov. Deval Patrick, who had lobbied lawmakers up until the final hours Thursday to kill the measure.  As the tally was announced, the halls of the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston erupted in applause.

Just think about those numbers: With the final vote of 151 to 45, gay marriage opponents couldn’t even get 25% of the state legislators to support their amendment.  One observer of this political event has stated, “That’s not a sea change in public opinion, that’s a tidal wave!”

Andrew Sullivan rejoices at The Atlantic Magazine:

“Yes, we have much more to do.  Yes, we still have to win over those who see our loves as somehow destructive of the families we seek merely to affirm.  Yes, we don’t have federal recognition of our basic civic equality.  Yes, in many, many states, we have been locked out of equality for a generation, because of the politics of fear and backlash.  But look how far we’ve come.  From a viral holocaust to full equality – somewhere in America, in the commonwealth where American freedom was born.  In two decades.  This is history.  What a privilege to have witnessed it.

It was driven above all by ordinary gay and lesbian couples and their families – not activists, not lobbyists, not intellectuals.  Couples and their families.  It was driven by a brutal, sudden realization that we were far more vulnerable than we knew.  In the plague years, husbands reeled as they were denied access to their own spouses in hospitals, as they were evicted from their shared homes in the immediate aftermath of terrible grief, and refused access even to funerals by estranged and often hostile in-laws.  This day is for them, for all those who were abused and maligned and cast aside because they loved another human being.  It’s also for all the lesbian mothers who realized in the last two decades just how much contempt and hatred existed for their care of their own children, who lived in constant insecurity, or who, at best, had to endure erasure from visibility.  It’s for gay families in Virginia today, denied dignity and protection multiple times over, enduring popular votes of meretricious contempt, and carrying on regardless, living their lives, building their relationships, cherishing their homes, caring for their kids, honoring their parents.  And it’s for the countless, countless gay couples throughout human history – who for so long had to live lives in which their deepest longings and loves were denied, crushed, ignored or threatened.

The media didn’t much notice yesterday.  But America changed.  The world changed.  And an ancient and deep wound began, ever so slightly, to heal.”

The Bee Gees: Massachusetts

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Photo of the Day: Gay Pride, Brooklyn

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