Irving Penn began his career with Vogue in 1943, and over fifty years 150 of his photographs appeared on the cover of Vogue. Lisa Fonssagrives, one of the most sought after fashion models of her time, married Penn in 1950, the same time that some of his iconic fashion images of her were captured. Woman in Palace, Morocco; Woman with Roses on her Arm; Woman with Umbrella; Coca Dress, Balenciaga; and Harlequin Dress were all taken during 1950-51.
Arguably the greatest fashion photographer of the 20th century, Irving Penn turned his commercial photographic eye to social documentary with exquisite results. His series of simple portraits of ordinary working people in London, New York and Paris titled ‘Small Trades” elevates the working man to heroic status via simple yet eloquent imagery and superlative simple lighting. Techniques used to delight the readers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazarre transform the ordinary man into a figure of respect. In each vision of proletariat occupation, we see the nobility of necessity and the exigency of hard work for little financial reward. In the following pages as a tribute to Penn’s visions of the working man as ‘Hero’, we offer you our own modern interpretation of those people who toil daily to provide us with the things we need to survive, literally and philosophically.