Friday, June 29, 2018

01 Contemporary Interpretations, Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion, with footnotes #5

Irving Penn, 1917-2009
'CROSSING THE RIVER STYX, c. 1996
Platinum-palladium print
15 1/2  by 25 5/8 in. (39.4 by 65.1 cm.)
Private collection

In Greek mythology, Styx is a deity and a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, and Cocytus all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which sometimes is also called the Styx. 

In order to cross the River Styx and reach Hades, a dead person must pay a fee to the ferryman, Charon. If the correct fee is paid, Charon will take the dead across. If the dead cannot afford the fee, however, they will be forced to wander the banks of the River Styx as Wraiths for eternity. More on crossing the River Styx

Irving Penn (June 16, 1917 – October 7, 2009) was an American photographer known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lifes. Penn's career included work at Vogue magazine, and independent advertising work for clients including Issey Miyake and Clinique. His work has been exhibited internationally and continues to inform the art of photography.

Penn was born to a Russian family on June 16, 1917 in Plainfield, New Jersey. He attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts) from 1934 to 1938, where he studied drawing, painting, graphics, and industrial arts.

Penn worked for two years as a freelance designer and making his first amateur photographs before taking a position as the art director in 1940. Penn remained at Saks  for a year before leaving to spend a year painting and taking photographs in Mexico and across the US. When Penn returned to New York he was offered a position at Vogue magazine Art Department. 

Penn's first photographic cover for Vogue magazine appeared in October 1943. The art department of the Office of War Information in London offered him a job as an "artist-photographer" but he volunteered with the American Field Service instead. After arriving in Naples with a boatload of American troops in November 1944. In July 1945, he was transferred from Italy to India. He photographed the soldiers, medical operations, and camp life. He sailed back to New York in November 1945.

Penn continued to work at Vogue throughout his career, photographing covers, portraits, still lifes, fashion, and photographic essays. In the 1950s, Penn founded his own studio in New York and began making advertising photographs. More on Irving Penn




Please visit my other blogs: Art CollectorMythologyMarine Art, and The Canals of Venice

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