A departure from Irving Penn's fashion and editorial work for the pages of "Vogue", this virtually unknown collection depicts the unfettered form of the female nude. Famous for insightful portraiture, surprising still life and other commercial work, Irving Penn is less well known as a superb photographer of the female nude. His most important pictures in this genre were made in 1949-50. The women Penn chose and the ways he viewed them produced nudes that were highly unorthodox by mid-20th century standards - charged with powerful physical and sexual energy yet somehow chaste, they are among the most ambitious and successful nudes ever made.
Irving Penn is one of the most distinguished and well-known photographers of the 20th century. Maria Morris Hambourg is the Curator of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the author of numerous books on photography.