This year marks the centennial of two giants’ birth, both born in 1917, and both 100th birthday will be celebrated this season at the Met. While the two contributed to the foundation of 20th century art, they couldn’t have been more different. One was born to a Russian Jewish family in New Jersey, attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, worked as an illustrator at Harper's Bazaar, and became one of the world’s best known fashion photographers whose images had come to shape the image of such clients as Issey Miyake and Clinique. The other was born in Innsbruck to an architect father, grew up in Milan, trained at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, and came to shape design culture of the second half of the past century like no other figure, best remembered today for his leading role in the Italian Radical Design Movement and for the collective Memphis, which he founded in 1981. Next week, the Met will open a retrospective of the photographs of Irving Penn, celebrating 70-year career, and exploring Penn’s contribution to the history of fashion photography, with his signature compositions, minimal backgrounds, diffused lighting, meticulous attention to detail and printmaking, and sculptor’s sensitivity to volumes in light. In July, the Met Breuer’s show ‘Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical,’ first for new design curator Christian Larsen, will seek to reevaluates his multifaceted career and rich oeuvre by situating his work within a broad design discourse. Celebrating centennial birthday of two legends.
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