The catalogue of the exhibition, published by the John Paul Getty Museum, brings together their collection of the Small Trades series as well as an interview with Edmonde-Charles Roux, the editor in chief of Vogue who assisted Penn when he undertook this project in Paris. The publication unveils to the public for the first time this extraordinary collection of portraits produced between 1950 and 1951.
Photographer Irving Penn (b. 1917) is renowned for his innovative contributions to portrait, still life, and fashion photography, and a career that has spanned more than six decades at Vogue magazine. In 1950, Vogue assigned Penn to photograph workers in Paris, and thus his monumental work The Small Trades began. Created in 1950 and 1951 in Paris, London, and New York, The Small Trades consists of portraits of skilled tradespeople dressed in their work clothes and carrying the tools of their respective trades. Capturing the humble coal heaver and the crisply dressed waiter with equal directness, Penn's arresting portraits also underscore fascinating cultural differences. The Small Trades was Penn's most extensive body of work, and he returned to it over many decades, producing ever more exacting prints. Two hundred-six unique images from the series are flawlessly reproduced in this book. In addition, the introductory essay describes the history and context of The Small Trades series and its importance to Penn's career and the history of photography. An interview with Edmonde Charles-Roux, the chief editor for French Vogue from 1952 to 1966, who assisted Penn on the assignment in Paris, provides fascinating insights of the Paris sittings.
Reviews:"These photographs . . . are respectful, consistent, beautiful, intelligent, daring. And unmissable. A brilliant catalogue."-- Financial Times, "This Magnificent Book, with Its Outstanding Images, ISA Pleasure to Hold." -- Choice, "Rather than picture [his subjects] where they worked, Penn brought them into his studio to pose like models against a sooty gray paper background. The smoky light of his black-and-white prints makes them look like living sculpture, carved into individuality by their life experiences and their times."-- San Francisco Chronicle, "The nobility and individuality of Penn's subjects, and the simple setting, enhanced only by the sitters' tools of their trades, became staples of Penn's equanimous style. Published by Vogue in 1951, the photographs have now been collected in a coffee-table book, which is both a paean and swan song to a lost era."--British Vogue, "The broadest view yet of one of Penn's most important and appealing early projects. . . . Small Trades has the heft of history--it's a sociologist's dream--but it's also one of the year's most fascinating books of fashion photographs."-- Photograph Magazine, "Penn . . . was a master of portrait photography. . . . This collection is of ordinary, anonymous workers--plumbers, bakers, house painters, and street artists in Paris, London, and New York. Each and every one is compelling."-- The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The book is a work of art in its own right; an object of beauty, and a Noah's ark for vanishing trades."-- The Jewish Chronicle, "More than 200 prints are reproduced in this finely executed tribute to a master."-- Professional Photographer
Irving Penn,Small Trades