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Irving Penn was born in Plainfield, NJ on June 16, 1917. Between 1934 and 1938 he studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art with Alexey Brodovitch, who published Penn’s drawings in Harper’s Bazaar in the late 1930s. In 1943, while working for Vogue magazine as a designer, he began taking photographs. Penn served in the American Field Service in Italy and India from 1944 to 1945. After returning to the USA he photographed fashion for Vogue (for which he produced over 100 covers) and began making portraits of writers, dancers, wrestlers and others. These photographs are noted for their formal qualities, which are enhanced by elegance of line, simplified lighting and radically minimal settings. The aesthetic underlying Penn’s fashion photography had an influence on his portrait style. In 1950 Penn married the model Lisa Fonssagrives, who appeared in much of his work for Vogue, including the first black-and-white cover (1950). In the same year he began photographing for his Worlds in a Small Room project. This work was initially concerned with portraits of tradespeople in Paris, London and New York, but later included gypsies and the peoples of Dahomey, Cameroon, Nepal, New Guinea and Morocco. Penn worked in rented studios and in a portable canvas studio that was erected on location, photographing individuals and groups against blank backgrounds in natural light, with an almost ethnographical directness.