Friday, June 9, 2017

A Famous Photographic Background


Yesterday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I saw an astounding photographic exhibit.  It is the work of Irving Penn, one of the great American photographers, who had a 70 year career, working mainly for Vogue magazine, doing portraiture, still life, and fashion, all over the world.  When I was in college between 1960 and 1964 I was in awe of the work of Irving Penn, and I still am!  One of the exhibits is this canvas background which was a piece of an old theater curtain that he found in 1950.  He moved it from studio to studio and used it for fifty years.  The subjects who were photographed in front of this background are some of the most famous people in the world of literature, entertainment, and the arts.


So here is what's cool - they set up a spotlight which illuminates anyone who stands in front of the background.  Which means you can be photographed in front of perhaps the most famous photographic background in the world.  Nearly everyone who passed through this room took out their cellphone or their camera, and had their picture taken.  Including me!  I was not going to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.  Below is a portrait of T.S. Eliot, one of the portraits that Penn used the background for. 


I decided to convert one of my portraits to B&W and tone it sepia to see how it measures up. Cool, huh?




7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ken, Brilliant set of photos. I like the sepia tone of you (and not because of who took it!). The light in front of the backdrop is better than I thought.-- Stan

Anonymous said...

Very cool. Love the sepia tone photo. Are you famous now?
Joan

Ken Spencer said...

Joan: Well I certainly was not famous but now that I have been photographed in front of this background I am! :-)

Anonymous said...

yes very cool indeed. nice sequence!

Anonymous said...

Glad you didn't pass on the chance to be photographed. I like the sepia picture. Of course, now I have to look up Irving Penn...betsey

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I notice you no longer check your jacket

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