Penn was known for his minimalist yet evocative style. He took photographs of celebrities, models and everyday people with the same passion and precision. In 1943, he began working at Vogue — a collaboration that became the longest tenure in Conde Nast's history. His work made over 150 Vogue covers as well as many iconic pictures that are highly regarded and lucrative even today.
Anna Wintour, Editor-In-Chief of Vogue, said of Penn, "His photographs were as exquisite and electrifying in the last year of his life as they were in 1943 … To have been a colleague and friend of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century is a privilege greater than I could ever have imagined."
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Born on June 16, 1917 in Plainfield, New Jersey, Penn went on to study at what is today the University of Arts. There, he studied under Alexey Brodovitch who recognized Penn's talent and hired him as a summer intern at Harper's Bazaar. After graduating in 1938, Penn moved to New York and, in 1940, he became the Director of Advertising Design for Saks Fifth Avenue. He gave up his job to live in Mexico and when he returned he began working for Vogue.
As a testament to his relevance even today, his photographs were featured in Vogue's September 2009 issue as part of a write up on the Getty Center's September exhibition of his Small Trades collection.
Historian Colin McDowell wrote that "[Penn's] fashion work was intimate but distant, a mixture of grandeur and emotion."
Story Source: NYTimes
Quote and Picture Source: WWD