Penn a prolific perfectionist

NEW YORK - Irving Penn, one of the 20th century's most prolific and influential photographers of fashion and the famous, whose signature blend of classical elegance and cool minimalism was recognisable to magazine readers and museum goers worldwide, died on Wednesday at his Manhattan home. He was 92.

NEW YORK - Irving Penn, one of the 20th century's most prolific and influential photographers of fashion and the famous, whose signature blend of classical elegance and cool minimalism was recognisable to magazine readers and museum goers worldwide, died on Wednesday at his Manhattan home. He was 92.

Penn's talent earned him the widespread admiration of Vogue readers during his long association with that magazine, beginning in 1943.

It also brought him recognition in the art world. His photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries and are prized by collectors.

A courtly man whose gentle demeanour masked an intense perfectionism, Penn adopted the pose of a humble craftsman while helping to shape a field known for putting on airs.

Though schooled in painting and design, he chose to define himself as a photographer, scraping paint off his early canvases so they could serve a more useful life as backdrops to his pictures.

He was also a devoted husband and friend. His marriage to Lisa Fons -sagrives, a leading model, an artist and his sometime collaborator, lasted 42 years until her death at the age of 80 in 1992. In 1994 Penn and their son, Tom, a metal designer, arranged the printing of a book that reproduced his wife's sculpture, prints and drawings. In addition to his son, Penn is survived by his stepdaughter, Mia Fonssagrives Solow, his younger brother Arthur, three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. - NYT

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