In a career that spans six decades, Irving Penn has achieved international recognition and acclaim for his celebrity portraits and fashion photographs. However, in his treatment of the nude a subject he has approached comparatively few times in his working life Penn might perhaps be described as somewhat subversive. In 1949 and 1950 he created the series Earthly Bodies; by choosing to depict fleshy, Rubenesque models he redefined the concept of the nude in photography and challenged the conventional idea of physical beauty. In the late 1990s Penn returned to the nude, and at the age of 82 produced a remarkable set of portraits of a voluptuous dancer named Alexandra Beller. These images resonate not only with a wonderful feeling of freshness but with a breathtaking intimacy. In Dancer, Beller is an active participant and this is a collaborative performance between artist and model. We are honored to present this work, beautifully printed in tritone and bound in Japanese saifu cloth. Designed by Irving Penn, Dancer is published to accompany an exhibition opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and traveling to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Maison Européenne de la Photographie. With an introduction by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and an essay by Sylvia Wolf, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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