Friday, March 12, 2010

Irving Penn at the National Portrait Gallery

Today there is a symposium on the current Irving Penn exhibition which I had hoped to attend but have not been able to. Here is a quote from the photographer dated 1975 ...

"Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face which they think is one they would like to show the world ... very often what lies behind the facade is more rare and wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe"

Reading through the information relating to the exhibition, two concepts stand out .. the importance of form and space within the photographic portrait. These seem worth considering.

No doubt I shall visit the exhibition and shall try and do it when there is an exhibition tour.

I do feel some reluctance though about this kind of exhibition. There is a lot of emphasis on the photographer rather than the photograph with the photographs tending to be mere portals for various celebrities or possibly people of more genuine merit. Although not against the cult of celebrity, my interest in the exhibition is that of a photographer considering the medium who is concerned with the way in which people are being portrayed rather than who they all are or once were.

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