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A Notebook at Random Hardcover – November 10, 2004
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About the Author
Irving Penn was born in 1917. He studied design with Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art and, in 1943, produced his first color photograph, a still life for the cover of Vogue. In a career of more than sixty years, he has made an extensive and influential body of work in portraiture, fashion, and still life. Mr. Penn is the author of several books, including Moments Preserved (1960), Worlds in a Small Room (1974), Flowers (1980), Passage (1991), Still Life (2000), and Earthly Bodies (2002).
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creative mind of the man once again amazed me and I am glad to add this book to my several by Irving Penn.
I was also impressed by the quality of the book. The cloth binding, the heavy paper and fine printing attest to
the man's quality production.
It contains sketches and photographs presented un-pretentiously, one on a page. Each one is a key or entry point into Penn's work and a hinge between him and the world of art and culture of his time. If you are not fresh off the turnip truck this is a book that may take a year to read as you think about each image and the infinite connections it has. If you are serious about photography and don't know Penn and his influence, this book will last you a lifetime as you study his sketch of the tree of those who influenced him. Any of his contemporaries mentioned on the tree could easily have erased his own name and put Irving Penn in his place, I think.
My favorites are his messing with his portrait of John Marin, his unusual portrait of Barnett Newman, and other sketches and scribblings on or about some of his familiar work. I was struck by his photographs of the street, and some other subjects few of us have ever seen. This book is revealing in much the same way as Earthly Bodies.
If you just like great photographs, this is a thought provoking, warm and modest tribute to one of the architects of the medium. If you are an artist and can't imagine being 87 and able to produce a random notebook this rich, you have a lot of work to do.
Some of the highlights of this book are the amount of photographs which have never before been published or seen by the public, along with many of his signature pieces throughout his career. This book truly gives us a better understanding into the raw endowment, originality, and involvement as a photographic engineer and a daring artist.