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January 16, 2007

The Penn is Way more Expensive then the sword

Irving Penn in Flowers at Pace MacGill Gallery
Pace_irving_penn_in_flowerSo Friday was an early market close.. so
my rich art collector pal TeeBee & I
got to stop the newest Irving Penn show which just opened this Thursday at Pace MacGill.

First off... to our friends those people at Pace MacGill Gallery... Please drop the rude, nasty attitude.. it's really unnecessary!!

The show is a mix of bran new work, vintage work, and
reprints from a few old negatives.

There was 2 noticeable themes..

  1. These were all classic photos of flowers..
  2. Every photo was priced well over $25,000 each! Ouch!

Now at 89 years old, Irving Penn is a living photo legend, and still actively signing lots of "vintage" images working. He's been doing these single flower close-up photos for some 40+ years.. and sadly there's nothing new here or particularly insightful at this new show.

Yes.. they are all beautiful, pretty flowers..I'm sure they'll look wonderful over your park avenue sofa. But, for the most part, it's straight, factual, boring, somewhat uncomplicated photography, that any first year photo student could probably create. Clearly, this is not a show of Irving's best works, innovative still life, or even his impressive historic work...but they are pretty!

Oh.. And if you were thinking you've always wanted to waste your money buy one, be prepared to pay dearly. Prices range from $30,000 for the large edition, new 2006 images, to well over $120,000 for a single vintage Irving Penn flower. I'm not sure exactly why someone would pay through the nose these prices... but I guess everyone can use a little simple beauty in their life.

If you can't afford to buy one of these, there's always his 1987 book.. Flowers by Irving Penn, really, it's just as good as owning one of these photos..really, it is...

The show is up till February 17th.


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Dude, we're interested in contemporary art here. Not much to say about Irving Penn (or Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, etc.). Let's stick with what's new.

Thanks Anonymous for the feedback..
But the name of this Blog is MODERN Art Obsession... So every now and then.. we'll have to cover a little Modern! Sorry.

I also think it's an interesting price comparison.. These are NEW Penn Photo's.. 2006 negatives!! Selling for $30,000 in editions of 10ish. Which for 20 x 20 inch images.. these are possibly the most expensive (per square inch) NEW photos around.

But, don't worry.. there will be more cutting edge contemporary, posted tomorrow.

there is a little flower lover in all of us .A lot of the Penn flower images were created for portfolios for Vogue magazine they were usually shown in the December issue along with a color portfolio from World In A Small Room,I think this was late sixties early seventies. How time flies anyway I use to think that every December Vogue was a Christas present to me.Then I started to buy photographs...I should have stuck to cutting them out of magzines.I rambles I will go and see the show and hope I will be surprised the pressure is off to...I can't acquire childhood dreams but I can still find
something .... that will give me pause.I have a copy of the first edition of the flowers somewhere around here a little yellow behind the glass but not unloved

I think you're right that many of the buyers are probably looking to decorate rather than collect. I wonder if the gallery is offering a "To the Trade" discount? :-)

$30K is hardly the highest price for new photos out there...but it is ridiculous nonetheless. On Chelsea trips in the last couple of years I've seen new Thomas Ruff at $125K, Crewdson at $45-55K, even Loretta Lux (in an even smaller size than 20x20) at around $35K. New Gursky's go for what, $125-250K? I agree with you about just buying the books instead. As an investment there can't possibly be an upside for Penn at these primary prices.

That Smurf is older than we thought if this photo was taken in 1948.


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