Thursday, 18 March 2010

Punch drunk by Penn

For reasons we will soon start to reveal on this site - we have only just been able to visit the Irving Penn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Simply titled 'Portraits', perfectly echoing his puritanical ethos, this is an exhibition of some of the West's cultural titans of the past 7 decades. Candidates for the Fantasy Dinner Party? They are all here... But this is Penn. It's not a mere log of 120 faces - every picture is an intense and revealing study. Shunning elaborate props, sets or gimmicks, he distills to the very essence of the sitter in each image. The youthful Peter Ustinov is cherubic, Schaiparelli - screamingly defiant. For anyone interested in recent Western Culture - this is unmissable - but be prepared to be hit 120 times right between your eyes.

Irving Penn Portraits, The National Gallery until 6th June.

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