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Pinault Collection : Irving Penn : Portraits of Artists


The Pinault Collection presents the exhibition Irving Penn: Portraits of Artists in Dinard.

I have a very beautiful memory that I owe to Irving Penn. October 1974, Roger Thérond‘s office at PHOTO on the Champs Elysées :
“PHOTO will soon release its hundredth issue. It has to be sparkling. You’re going to New York and you’re going to see all the greats.”

My first trip to NY: The revelation.

Very quickly, on the spot, I was made to understand that it was Penn who was the key to success.
If he gives, everyone will follow, Avedon, Hiro and the great colorists…

Penn is the photographer who impressed me the most.
I never met him then.
I have absolutely no idea how to talk to him.
I invite him to lunch at the Café des Artistes: he accepts.
For an hour and a half, I talk to him about his little brother Arthur and Mickey One, his first film, a sort of dreamlike fable about Frank Sinatra with Warren Beatty and the sublime Alexandra Stewart with whom I was madly in love as a schoolboy.
At no time did I talk about Photography.
At the end of the meal, at the door of the restaurant, Penn said to me:
“Thank you for this lunch, it was surprising, don’t worry.
I’ll give you pictures for your anniversary issue.”

Thanks to Penn, they came, they were all there!
I got compliments from Roger!

Jean Jacques Naudet


After a first exhibition at the Palais des Arts, “Who’s afraid of artists? », in 2009, unveiling a selection of works from the Pinault Collection, it is with enthusiasm that François Pinault once again accepted the proposal of the City of Dinard, to present a selection of photographs, at the Villa Les Roches Brunes, a vast Belle Époque residence, in the heart of the city. This exhibition is part of the program beyond the walls of the Pinault Collection, which at the same time presents a major exhibition in Rennes, at the Couvent des Jacobins, “Forever Sixties, the spirit of the 1960s in the Pinault Collection”.

Artist among artists, Irving Penn, first trained in painting, used the same method to construct his still lifes as to describe the depths of the being of his models. No frills, no decor in the photographer’s studio: an old theater drape, a stool or at most an armchair covered in a heavy, decrepit fabric, that’s all that Irving Penn made available to the personalities he photographed. Outside the studio and off stage, the artists appear devoid of their tools, instruments, entourages or trappings. It is thanks to this pared down exercise, almost minimalist, that the photographer captured his subjects. New, profound, existential portraits were then created. The austerity of the decor and the graphic conciseness of Irving Penn allowed the psychology of each model to emerge with delicacy. The influence that he will exert on photographic art is decisive. Simplicity, light, construction, distance: a magic formula that the artist invented to reveal beings and things on glossy paper.

Crossing the sixty years that constitute the career of Irving Penn, the exhibition is a gallery of the faces of those who embodied much of the creation in the last century: painters, choreographers, musicians, architects, filmmakers and writers expose themselves and dialogue on the walls of the mythical seaside villa, as if on a timeline.


– Matthieu Humery, photography advisor to the Pinault Collection,
– Lola Regard, in charge of research.

Irving Penn: Portraits of Artists – Photographs from the Pinault Collection
June 11 – October 1, 2023
Villa Les Roches Brunes
1 Customs Alley
35800 Dinard


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