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Earthly Bodies: Irving Penn's Nudes, 1949-50: Irving Penn's Nudes, 1949-1950 Hardcover – 4 Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown US; 1 edition (4 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821227874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821227879
  • Product Dimensions: 29.2 x 1.9 x 29.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,568,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

From the legendary photographer Irving Penn comes this rarely seen collection of female nudes.

About the Author

Irving Penn is one of the most distinguished and well-known photographers of the 20th century. Maria Morris Hambourg is the Curator of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the author of numerous books on photography.

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A new perspective on a master 3 Feb 2002
By D. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maria Morris Hambourg has made us a beautiful and important book, again. She has produced a silent essay from a collection of delicate and powerful private images. Untitled photographs, beautifully printed, they speak for themselves. She writes about the photographer and puts these nudes into the context of his life and his other work. What Hambourg writes about the relationship between artist and model is authentic and enlightening. A wide range of very strong and unique work is beautifully presented here. It is hard to imagine a more difficult book to create and impossible to find a flaw in the result.
It is still possible to miss the point of this book. Fanning the pages looking for what passes for beautiful bodies these days will tell you more about yourself than the artist.
This work will startle some people who know only Penn's famous portraits and fashion photographs. These are primitive, direct and pure essence of the subject, counterpoint to his highly refined public work. Penn uses the power of the raw photograph with great self-assurance to discover detail in otherwise very simple images. Some of his pictures seem unfinished, but the author makes it clear there are no accidents in these prints - they are as carefully done as his familiar published work.
Some images deliberately recall sculpture from Venus de Milo and Nike of Samothrace to the female scuptures from prehistoric caves. Some images draw on Stieglitz, Weston, and perhaps Bernhard. A lesser artist would just seem derivative but the few references to others simply reinforce the strength of Penn's own vision.
Hambourg shows us by her editing just how Penn worked. She includes one contact sheet that invokes the closeness of the "dance" between artist and model that most never see and photographers seldom want to show. Hambourg's deft touch greatly enriches this book without distracting from the artist.
Penn's nude photographs ranks with the nudes of Weston and only one or two others. It is a curious coincidence that the nudes of Weston, Stieglitz and Penn were all conserved and presented to us by women. That is sufficient reason to pay attention to how this work is presented.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Honest beauty 22 Jun 2009
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I never thought I would see it. This book precisely captures what I find most beautiful in women's bodies. I mean real women, with folds, bits that gracefully sag, and maybe an upper clothing size different from the lower. Conventional, magazine cover beauty is nice enough, but attached to so very few. Just about every woman is beautiful, really, and this approaches that wider definition of beauty.

One page into the main collection of photos (p.24), we see a figure with uncommonly slender bust, a tummy sensually rounded, and hip and thigh that widen in lush curves. This directly contradicts today's "fashionable" figure in nearly every way, but remains one of the most striking, beautiful, and essentially womanly portraints in the collection. If you can't love that photo, then just close the book. You won't grasp the respect for honesty above passing style that pervades this anthology. In particular, you won't value the gifts of softness that come to a woman in her thirties, or forties, or later.

After that second page, nearly every image presents some awkward angle, some crease where fleshy curve crumples under the strength within it, or some aspect of womanly softness yielding to gravity. These features have appeared on the women I've loved, and appear more often as they mature. I love all of those features for that reason. They do not detract from a woman's beauty, unless you use some twenty-something centerfold model as standard. Instead, they present it as it has appeared in my life. I know that many viewers will not understand the shocking beauty of the ordinary. I pity those impoverished souls, and wish better vision for them as the women in their lives continue to mature.

-- wiredweird
Five Stars 1 Dec 2014
By Visione Photo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Best Fashion Book!
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