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Irving Penn’s Work Comes to the Middle East for the First Time

Photographed by Irving Penn.

Irving Penn’s lens has captured some of the world’s most iconic images, and now, the photographer’s work is being displayed for the first time ever in Lebanon. Following the successful Ellen Von Unwerth retrospective at Beirut’s Opera House, the Lebanese capital is playing host to “Untroubled”, an exhibition on Penn’s most iconic images. The show, curated by Matthieu Humery, inaugurated the launch of the Mina Image ­Centre, a new non-profit space situated near the city’s port.

The retrospective, which runs until April 28th, includes 49 of Penn’s original photographs shot over four decades, acquired on loan from the Pinault Collection in Venice. Among the images on display are some of his most striking portraits, compositions, and still lifes, including the close-up of Pablo Picasso, Miles Davis’s hands, and a portrait of his wife of 42-years, Lisa Fonssagrives.

Born in New Jersey in 1917, Penn is one of the most influential photographers of all time. His portfolio includes distinctive portraits of Alfred Hitchcock, Salvador Dali, and Marlene Dietrich, in addition to portfolios of indigenous people, still lifes of wrinkled cigarette butts, and couture compositions, captured throughout his 70-year-long career. Penn shot an unprecedented 165 Vogue covers (more than any other photographer). His first was for the August 1943 issue and his last in August 2009, a few months before he passed away. Him and his work have been the subject of several retrospectives and exhibitions all around the globe. “Untroubled” marks the first time Penn’s work is on display in the Middle East.

“Untroubled” is currently on display at Mina Image Centre in Beirut until April 28.

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