With Irving Penn appearing so regularly in the pages of Vogue (see his portraits of Helmut Newton, Lee Bontecou, and Zaha Hadid in the March issue), a gallery show seems almost superfluous. But “Present Concerns,” Penn’s 18-piece roundup of new and newly printed old work, is not to be missed. Included among the flawlessly executed still lifes, nudes, and portraits made between 1947 and 2003 is one of the most alarming pictures yet of Karl Lagerfeld, his collar as archaic and constricting as the chastity belt in the image alongside. But the show’s high point, and the most unforgettably witty photo in town right now, is the bodiless turkey reproduced here. I’d hesitate to call it a self-portrait, but Penn’s elegant old bird regards us with such a knowing eye, at once accusatory and understanding, that he looks like he belongs behind the camera, too.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 17, 2004