“part of the lore of 20th century art”
Irving Penn’s Cigarettes quickly became part of the lore of 20th century art when a selection was presented by John Szarkowski, just weeks after he saw the prints in Penn’s studio, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1975.
In the case of Cigarettes, Penn literally found his subjects on the street. By bringing them into his studio and carefully creating these minimalist compositions, he transformed one of the most widely consumed and discarded products of consumer society into a symbolic representation of contemporary culture. This transformative act resulted in one of the most elegant yet direct expressions of post-modern artistic practice.
With an introduction by Tim Jefferies and an essay by John Szarkowski.
Published in collaboration with the Irving Penn Foundation to accompany the exhibition Irving Penn: Cigarettes held at Hamiltons Gallery in 2012.