Irving Penn & Issey Miyake: A Visual Dialogue



After the succesful exhibition for Shiro Kuramata's and Ettore Sottsass' work, 21_21 Design Sight museum in Tokyo is dynamically entering the new season with an exciting new exhibition, featuring two of the biggest names in the history of fashion, Irving Penn and Issey Miyake, opening to the public on September 16th, 2011.The exhibition will focus to the close collaborative work of the two legendary artists that lasted many years.


(Image above: From the original cartoons created for the animated film by Michael Crawford)

Exhibition Poster. Design: Taku Satoh.
Photo top: Irving Penn. Poppy: Glowing Embers, New York, 1968.
Photo bottom: Flower Pleats (Issey Miyake Design), New York, 1990

Issey Miyake's first encounter with Irving Penn was in 1983, when the second photographed his clothes for an editorial feature for American Vogue. Since then, the two men worked closely, with Penn shooting exclusively all Miyake's collections, until 1999. Miyake never attended the photo sessions, deeply trusting Penn's vision, offering him complete freedom for the final visual result. In the end, Penn made over 250 photographs of Miyake’s designs, many of which appear in collection posters, were published in art books, or exhibited in museums and cultural institutions.


Irving Penn, Vegetable Face (B), New York 1995

Issey Miyake himself says about this great collaboration: “I was looking for the one person who could look at my clothing, hear my voice, and answer me back through his own creation. I searched long for such a person and found in Penn-san. […] Through his eyes Penn-san reinterprets the clothes, gives them new breath, and presents them to me from a new vantage point — one that I may not have been aware of, but had been subconsciously trying to capture. Without Penn-san’s guidance, I probably could not have continued to find new themes with which to challenge myself, nor could I have arrived at new solutions.”(From Irving Penn: A Career in Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1997).


Irving Penn, Issey Miyake Staircase Dress, New York 1994

Book Jacket. Irving Penn regards the work of Issey Miyake.
Photograph, jacket design, and typography by Irving Penn

Among the individual and collaborative work of Irving Penn and Issey Miyake, the exhibition also features an animated film by Pascal Roulin with original drawings by Michael Crawford, Miyake's collection posters exhibited for the first time, original fine art prints by Penn, as well as his preliminary drawings for photographing Miyake's designs.

Installation image by Shigeru Ban

The exhibition will last until April 8th, 2012.

All images courtesy of 21_21 Design Sight


                                                             Installation images by Shigeru Ban


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