Friday, 5 March 2010

Irving Penn 'Small Trades' private view @ Hamiltons

I was invited to the private view of Irving Penn’s platinum/palladium prints at Hamilton’s Gallery in London and was accompanied by fellow photographer Trevor Crone. The prints on show were from Penn’s ‘Small Trades’ series, 24 in all and ranging in size from 16x12 to 22x16 inches (approx). I was very much looking forward to viewing these prints and they did not disappoint. As is always the case with Hamilton’s, the view was well attended by the great and the good.

The premise of the ‘Small Trades’ series was simple, to photograph skilled traders dressed in their work clothes and carrying the tools of their occupations. Penn however seems to extract every bit of the traders character in these wonderful images.

More than 200 traders were photographed by Penn, the majority can be found in the new book entitled ‘Small trades’ published by the Getty Museum which is definitely worth buying. In some instances it compares the silver gelatine prints and platinum prints side by side, as is shown in the scanned image from the book below. The difference is clearly evident. The silver prints exhibiting very harsh raw black and white tones, in some cases rather crude, whilst the platinum prints are soft with smooth warm tones, the blacks are like velvet and overall the platinum prints look more three dimensional. Where there was no apparent detail in the silver prints in the platinum prints detail is revealed beautifully.

The exhibition is really worth seeing and is on until the 24th April, prices range from $100,000 to $250,000 per print. Below shows my two favorite prints from the show.

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