fashion Art Meets Fashion


Dallas Museum of Art is welcoming the arrival of the first retrospective exhibition of Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Best known for his iconic fashion, portrait, and still life images showcased on the pages of Vogue, Irving Penn ranks as one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth century. The upcoming exhibition celebrates his legacy as a modern master and reveals the full expressive range of his work: from the street scenes of late 1930s, images of the American South of 1940s, celebrity portraits, fashion photographs, still-lives, and more private studio shots. Penn’s photographic style reveal a taste for stark simplicity whether applied to celebrity portraits, fashion takes, still lives, or people in remote places of the world.

Penn’s career didn’t spark from comfortable beginnings. Born to a Russian family in 1917, Irving stepped onto the creative path by attending the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where he studied drawing, painting and

graphics. A few of his drawings were published in Harper’s Bazaar, while he was still a student. His following endeavors included free-lance design, amateur photography, and management of Art Department of Saks Fifth and an associate position in the Art Department of Vogue. His first photographic Vogue cover appeared in 1943. The same year can be considered the beginning of his ascension to fame.

Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty consists of 140 photographs, all drawn entirely from the extensive holdings of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Penn’s aesthetic and technical skill blurred the line between commercial and fine art photography, narrowing the gap between art and fashion. Penn’s photographs defined elegance and style of the 1950s, yet he dared and succeeded to transform mundane objects into startling pieces of photographic art —storefront signs, food, cigarette butts, street debris—all of unexpected, and often surreal, beauty.

Member only opening reception: Thursday April 14, 2016 7:30-9:30pm. For more information visit

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Photography by: Irving Penn - The Irving Penn Foundation