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Curator’s Perspective: Irving Penn

  • California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks 350 West Hillcrest Drive, Oaks Mall (2nd Floor - Between Macy's and Nordstroms) Thousand Oaks United States (map)
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"These images were so new, so divorced from current imaginative traditions, that they were a revelation." – Alexander Liberman, editorial director, describing Irving Penn’s first photos for Vogue

With a body of work stretching from portraits of Pablo Picasso, Marlene Dietrich and Alfred Hitchcock to abstract female nudes to still lifes to glamorous fashion photos for Vogue, Irving Penn ranks as one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth century. In his nearly 70-year career, Penn worked on professional and artistic projects across multiple genres, dominating the field of fashion and celebrity portraiture and mastering a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography distinguished for its meticulous attention to composition, nuance and detail.

Join us Thursday, March 7, for an evening discussion with curator, educator and writer Colin Westerbeck, author of Irving Penn: A Career in Photography. As a Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, Westerbeck brought Penn’s archives to the museum and organized a Penn exhibition that toured Europe after opening at the Art Institute. He will highlight Penn’s long and renowned career and his enduring influence on the art and history of photography.

 “Curator’s Perspective” complements CMATO’s current photography exhibition “In Focus: Ansel Adams Highlights from Lawrence Janss Collection.” Admission is free for museum members and $10 for non-members.

Admission Free


About Colin Westerbeck:

Before moving to Los Angeles, Colin Westerbeck was a Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1986 through 2003. Since then he has written a weekly column on photography for the Los Angeles Times in 2006 and 2007 and has contributed frequently to Art in America. He has also taught photographic history on the under-graduate and graduate levels at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California from 2004 to 2008, and again in 2017. From 2008 until 2012, he was Director of the California Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside. His most recent books are Chuck Close: Photographer (Prestel, 2014), A Democracy of Imagery (Steidl, 2016), and a completely revised and up-dated edition of his 1994 book co-authored by Joel Meyerowitz, Bystander, A History of Street Photography, published by Laurence King in 2017.  In 2018, Harper Collins published his Vivian Maier: The 35-Millimete Color Photography