Before working with Alexander Liberman and Vogue, Irving Penn (1917–2009) studied with the design genius Alexey Brodovitch, and then traveled to Mexico to find his artistic voice. He hadn’t yet chosen a preferred medium and was exploring photography, painting, and printmaking. Photography chose him. During W.W. II, Penn took shots of soldiers and military life for the American Field Service; when he returned to the U.S. his star rose swiftly, for his striking portraits were like no one else’s. Over five decades, and ever the introvert, Penn would shoot the world’s biggest stars and a record-breaking 150 Vogue covers. Cardi showcases a mastery that moves from celebrity portraiture to photojournalism to imposing still lifes to gritty images of street debris to the indelible fashion moment. —E.C.
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