I don’t photograph what I see. That’s not what interests me. I photograph only what I find intriguing.” — Irving Penn in 1991.
This portrait of Pablo Picasso seems to directly reaffirm Penn’s quote: “the intriguing portrait of a genius”. In the 1950s, Irving Penn started adopting a more candid, close-up style — photographing subjects such as Picasso in 1957, or Louis Jouvet in 1951, or even the one of Truman Capote also taken during the same decade.
The portrait of Picasso is shot at a close range, the subject head is cropped in order to draw attention to the eyes. The harmonious play of geometric shapes is accentuated by the ingenious use of lights and shadows. As in most of Penn’s portraits the subject is posed against a plain background and lighted from the side.
Very often subjects in Penn’s portraits are tightly cropped, conveying the sense of little movement, but from my perspective what is important is that they talk about the real character of the person in the portrait, and this one is a clear example.
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