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American photographer Penn dies

Irving Penn photographed in the 1960s
Irving Penn began his photography career in the 1940s

American photographer Irving Penn, who gained fame for his images ranging from fashion and celebrities to ordinary people and still life, has died.

His assistant Roger Krueger said he died at his home in Manhattan at the age of 92.

Mr Penn began his career in the 1940s at fashion magazine Vogue, later including travel, such as New Guinea mud men, and still life.

He preferred to isolate his subjects in his studio against a stark background.

One of his exhibitions in the 1970s showed items such as cigarette butts and decaying fruit removed from the streets and photographed in his studio.

'Severe portraits'

"Photographing a cake can be art," he said at the 1953 opening of his studio, Associated Press reported.

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He began working at Vogue in 1943 in the art department.

Showing a talent for unorthodox layout, he was asked to photograph a Vogue cover shot - the result was a still life of a brown leather bag, a beige scarf, gloves, oranges and lemons arranged in a pyramid shape.

His austere style of photographing models and fashion accessories against clean backdrops was in contrast to the prevailing style of using busy settings and props.

Portraiture from the 1950s showed not only famous actors, musicians and politicians but also plumbers, salesmen and cleaners in New York City, Paris and London.

"The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader," he said in a 1991 interview in The New York Times.

An exhibition of Penn's work is due to be staged at London's National Portrait Gallery from February next year.



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