National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Irving Penn: Platinum Prints, June 19 - October 2, 2005

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

Image: Irving Penn, American, born 1917
Platinum Test Materials 1/17, 1989
collage of platinum/palladium prints
Gift of Irving Penn
National Gallery of Art, Washington Since the early 1960s, American photographer Irving Penn (born 1917) has made a limited number of platinum prints of his most celebrated photographs. This exhibition will present some 83 platinum prints given by Penn to the National Gallery of Art in 2002. Featured will be many of Penn's best works, including his portraits of Pablo Picasso, David Smith, Saul Steinberg, and Marcel Duchamp; studies of indigenous peoples in New Guinea and Peru; provocative still lifes; and influential fashion studies.

Penn's gift to the Gallery, and the organization of the exhibition, is based on a series of 17 photographic collages entitled Platinum Test Materials. A meticulous craftsman, Penn has experimented extensively to make prints with remarkably subtle, rich tonal ranges and luxurious textures. Each of the Platinum Test Materials consists of six to ten randomly arranged test strips that Penn made prior to creating his finished platinum prints. The corresponding finished prints make up the rest of the exhibition. With their odd juxtapositions and rough quality, the Platinum Test Materials provide a provocative new way to approach Penn's work.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sponsor: Sponsored by Merrill Lynch.

The exhibition is also supported by the Trellis Fund and The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation.