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September 9, 2009–January 10, 2010 at the Getty Center
Working in Paris, London, and New York in the early 1950s, photographer Irving Penn (American, 1917–2009) created masterful representations of skilled tradespeople dressed in work clothes and carrying the tools of their occupations. A neutral backdrop and natural light provided the stage on which his subjects could present themselves with dignity and pride. Penn revisited his Small Trades series over many decades, producing evermore-exacting prints, including platinum/palladium enlargements. In 2008 the J. Paul Getty Museum acquired the most comprehensive group of these images, carefully selected by the photographer—155 gelatin silver prints and 97 platinum/palladium prints—that are being exhibited in their entirety for the first time.
About Irving Penn