Irving Penn

American, 1917–2009

Road Sweeper, London, 1950

palladium print on paper, 4/19

57.3 x 45.8 cm Image: 50 x 37 cm

Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from an anonymous donor



Photograph, Photography

Well known for his portraiture and fashion photography, Irving Penn spent many years working for Vogue. His signature style is identified by compositions where his subjects are posed against a simple grey or white backdrop, lit by natural light from a window. This technique provided Penn with an effective form of simplicity that drove the viewer to focus on the sitter or subject. The type of clarity that Penn brought to fashion photography carried over into his own creative practice. In this image the viewer is drawn to the pathetic expression and posture of the road sweeper. Years of doing manual labour has left its toll on the man’s face, and he holds the broom with a familiar grasp marked by years of repetitive movements.

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