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Perhaps on of the most recognisable names in the world of modern photography is the late, great Irving Penn (1917–2009), “Portraits” is a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London focusing on some of his most famous portraits from his acclaimed 70 year career.

Focusing on some of the most important cultural figures of the 20th Century the exhibition includes a long list of famous names from the world of literature, music and the visual and performing arts. Among those featured in the exhibition are Truman Capote, Salvador Dali, Christian Dior, T.S. Eliot, Duke Ellington, Grace Kelly, Rudolf Nureyev, Al Pacino, Edith Piaf, Pablo Picasso and Harold Pinter.  The show brings together works previously featured in several of his major international collections it includes over 120 silver and platinum prints, many vintage, ranging from his portraits for Vogue magazine in the 1940s to some of his last work.

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This fascinating survey brings to light the significance of Penn’s visual language and provides a rare opportunity to explore his innovative use of composition, light and printing techniques in these revealing shots, which offer a more intimate side to the artist than his more often seen fashion photography.

“Portraits” is at the National Portrait Gallery in London until June 6th when it will move to Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome from 1 July to 19 September 2010.

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