Spotlight Curator | Vince Aletti really likes Irving Penn

Our second exhibition Stuff: Still Life Photography is curated by writer and photography critic Vince Aletti.  Aletti shares insight on his fondness for the still-life, alluding to his affinity for Irving Penn, as his source of inspiration for the show.

I started focusing on still life after the death of Irving Penn, whose photographs of dying flowers, crushed cigarettes, frozen foods, and the spilled contents of a woman’s purse defined the genre for me.  Knowing no one could really replace him, I wondered who might come close….Like Penn, many of them honor or subvert the classic still life of arranged objects…recalling Penn’s fondness for lovely dissarray.

— Vince Aletti


In the photographs, Frozen Food (With String Beans), 1977, and Theatre Accident, New York 1947, 1984, Penn depicts the still life in two distinct styles.  In Food, Penn creates a double entendre with his photograph.   The still-life is not only depicting an inanimate object, but by deliberately using frozen food, Penn is perhaps commenting on the genre itself, nutrition, and objectification of food.  In Theatre, he creates constructed chaos, as the contents of a bag are accidentally and beautifully spilled out on the floor.


Stuff: Still Life Photography opens on July 27, 2011. See you then!