September 2011 (8)

"Irving Penn and Me" vol. 2 Hiroyuki Nakano

In celebrating the "Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue" exhibition starting September 16, leading creators from all walks of art speak to us of their fascination with Irving Penn photos.


Delicate and Powerful Expression like Mincho-tai Font


──What made you a fan of Irving Penn?

I love old Vogue photographs and the first photo collection I ever bought was a collection of Irving Penn photos. I think he is the person that has had the greatest influence on me. Richard Avedon is frequently cited as a photographer of the same generation but personally, whereas Avedon is a powerful and tough Gothic font, Penn has an image of being a delicate and elegant Mincho-tai font. When starting film, I would ask myself, "How can I shoot film like Penn's photos?" I made many attempts but it was nearly impossible to shoot similar cuts (laugh.)

──What is the charm of Penn photographs?

First, his photos have an interesting composition and a powerful impact that you will never forget once seen. Call it his ability to pick out split second moments, call it his determination...even when working with Issey-san, he knows every detail and context of the clothing and takes intense photos with a firm grip on every single point he wants to show. I have heard that Mr. Penn started working with Issey-san when he was around 70 years old and that is very understandable. Mr. Penn had worked on the forefront of photography from an early age and once past 50, his pace of work started slowing down and naturally, the number of photographs. As he entered his later years, he took on a new and interesting challenge. I think Issey-san's clothes had some influence on this decision. Imagine how fun it would be to be presented with such exciting clothing and figuring out how you would shoot them. Looking at their work, I can feel with my skin the joy and excitement that it contained.

──Please tell us about your recent work.

I am participating in the "311 Sendai Short Film Production Project 'Ashita (Tomorrow)'", which is a project of the "Sendai Short Film Festival 2011" to be held at Sendai Mediatheque on the 17th and 18th of September. The project will feature 3 minute 11 second films shot by 40 directors. I thought hard for about three months and finished a piece titled "Ashita (Tomorrow.)" I hope you will come see it.

(interviewer: Keiko Kamijo)



Hiroyuki Nakano

Hiroyuki Nakano

Film director
Known for his musical film expression, Nakano is the mastermind behind many music videos of famous Japanese and international artists. His film, "SF Samurai Fiction" was the Grand Prix winner of the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival and his short film, "Iron" won the International Young Critics' Award at the Cannes International Film Festival. "The Beautiful Planet" the newest work by Nakano introducing viewers to the beauty of our planet Earth is now on release.

"Ashita (Tomorrow)"

List view of "Irving Penn and Me"

[Movie] Opening Talk by Tyen


Article on TIME.com

Exhibition "Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue" is covered on TIME.com.
http://www.time.com/time/travel/article/0,31542,2093170,00.html

TIME.com
14 September 2011

A Dialogue with Midori Kitamura Part 3

Dialogue Woven through "Sight"

These photo sessions resulted in over 250 photographs. When flipping through the pages of the photo collection, "Irving Penn regards the work of Issey Miyake" (1999, Random House), there is a sense of amazement that all the photographs could have been taken with the same level of emotion.
"When selecting the photographs to show on the large screen during the exhibition, I was once again impressed at how timeless Mr. Penn's work is. For 13 years, the tension remains unchanged as if every single picture was taken at the same sitting."

ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Autumn/Winter 1996.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation
ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Spring/Summer 1998.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation
ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Autumn/Winter 1999.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation


Whether it be fashion, portraits, or still lives, Penn's objective in his work was to transcend the known historical aspects of photography and art and take them to new and creative level. His work for Miyake always projects both a sense of the times and an element of humor lurking beneath it. These photographs were revelatory of the unique character of the artist himself. But more than that, each of the photographs by Irving Penn goes beyond the borders of mere fashion photography; each carries with it a power to somehow endow the model wearing ISSEY MIYAKE with the aura of a new life form that has traveled here from the future.
"Mr. Penn was always waiting with great anticipation for the clothes I'd bring. This is something I felt from across the meeting table. The same can be said for Miyake, who was waiting for the photos on the other side of the ocean. But, since Mr. Penn was a great master in the eyes of Miyake, I'm sure Miyake also had a sense of anxiety that Mr. Penn would not find any clothes he wanted to take. In that sense, I think it was like waiting for test results with a pounding heart."

Every time Miyake looked at the photos delivered from New York. He would be amazed and inspired by the new interpretation and this then turned into the motivating force for his next collection.
"Designers are clear in what they want to express. They put their life on the line at every collection. The works shown there remain in history so misinterpretation of the work would be a horrifying thing. But in Miyake's case, he accepted Mr. Penn's expressions. Probably out of sincere respect. He accepted these new interpretations and used them as seeds for his imagination."

Resonating dialogue that continued solely through "sight." These 250 pictures are in many ways, the fruit of this miracle-like communication. The element that supported the collaboration of these two maestros was the spirit of solidarity on the photo sessions.
"John Sahag, in charge of hair, was a super popular artist but during these sittings, he would just say, "Yes, Mr. Penn" and do everything the way Mr. Penn told him to do. Tyen was also the world's top creative director and photographer who had created the entire color palette for Parfum Christian Dior but on these shoots, he would bring a mountain of makeup all by himself. All of the staff in that studio took on this work as if it were their first. I too, focused on the clothing, shutting out all thoughts of the Paris collection theme. I did not speak one word of what Miyake had said.
Because I knew that Miyake would not be happy if we took something that was similar to the collection. Without knowing it, the three of us were also sharing the silent communication that had been flowing between Mr. Penn and Miyake. We locked in our ego and everybody worked on the same spiritual level. It was a truly special time."

Every staff involved in the photo shoot worked together as one to create Penn's work. For them, this was not labor; it was work.

Though Miyake never once sat in on a photo session, every time he visited New York, he had dinner with Mr. Penn, Kitamura, and Kanai.
"We met many times after completion of this series and every time, Mr. Penn would say, 'Work with Issey was unforgettable' and that it was a time of his life that he would never forget."
In 2009, Irving Penn passed away at age 92. This series, which could not all be released in his lifetime will be shown at this exhibition. Kitamura planned this exhibition in memory of the artist as well as with a feeling that looking at this work again now will allow her to share a special something with many others. As opening day draws near, preparations are approaching the final stretch.


Composition/Text: Cawaii Factory/Tamaki Harada + Mari Nakayama (Creative editors unit)

Part 1 Director's Profile
Part 2 Details of the Photo Sitting
Part 3 Dialogue Woven through "Sight"

A Dialogue with Midori Kitamura Part 2

Details of the Photo Sitting

Irving Penn was born in 1917. His photographs first graced the covers of "VOGUE" in 1943. From then, on he worked at the forefront of fashion, portrait, and still life photos. By the time he started working on the ISSEY MIYAKE photo series, he was 69 years old, an unchallenged master.
"One time, a model who was about to go home after a photo session became distressed because she could not find the shoes that she had worn there. They must have gotten mixed in with the other things. Mr. Penn, who had been closely watching the situation brought out his own sneakers and casually told the model to wear them home. That's the kind of man he was."

There was a demanding schedule for every photo shoot.
After the collection had been shown in Paris, the clothes would return to the Tokyo office. There, Miyake and Kitamura would begin the selection process for pieces to send to New York for the session. "We tried to choose the pieces that would inspire Mr. Penn the most. No matter how beautiful the piece, we did not bring anything whose form was too simple. Although the final selection would only be 3 or 4 pieces, we would send about 40 pieces from which Mr. Penn could choose, all of which were sent to the ISSEY MIYAKE USA office in New York."
Kitamura would then head to New York. Before the meeting with Penn, the clothes would be carefully arranged on racks.

On the day of the meeting, Penn would come to the office at 8:30. Kitamura would show what was prepared. When Penn found one to his liking, she would have a model put it on, so he could see the clothes in motion.
"At these moments, Mr. Penn would say for example, 'Midori, this piece is certainly interesting but could you add more volume to the side?' I'd think, 'Oh no, there's nothing to add but maybe this mini skirt will work' and wrap it on. Then, the piece becomes interesting. Mr. Penn would direct the model to pose in different ways, and then when he found what he was looking for, start drawing a sketch of the clothing as well as the makeup and hair. These sketches will also be on display at the exhibition."
The selection process ended by noon, and the photo shoot would begin at the Penn Studio the next day.
"During those 13 years there were no changes in the core members of the staff, which is a very rare thing: John Sahag did the hair, Tyen did the makeup, Sadie Hall would iron every piece, Jun Kanai, the Miyake Design Studio US representative, was in charge of coordination, and me, styling."
The photo shoot began each morning at 8:30, a break for lunch in between, and ended at 6PM. This continued for about 4 days.

Kitamura says that during the shoot, Penn's studio was silent, allowing neither music nor conversation while he worked.
"It was a kind of silence that if you dropped something, everyone would jump. The only sounds were the directions given by Mr. Penn and the sound of his shutter clicking once in a while. The tension in the air was palpable. Now that I look back on it, it was the same tension we felt as Miyake was preparing for a Paris show."

ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Spring/Summer 1991.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation
ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Spring/Summer 1992.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation
ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Spring/Summer 1994.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation


When asked a question as to whether there were any especially memorable clothes or episodes during those 13 years, Kitamura responded, " none in particular... because she had poured the same amount of energy into each and every one of them. In other words, everything was special. "Personally, I think that rather than simply taking a photo, Mr. Penn first created his own world and captured this on camera. He made everything from the makeup to the hair to the color of the model's skin to his specifications; and completed the world with one piece of clothing. I remember that as the photo sessions advanced, I would start feeling like I was watching opera. It was a continuous feeling of amazement."


Composition/Text: Cawaii Factory/Tamaki Harada + Mari Nakayama (Creative editors unit)

Part 1 Director's Profile
Part 2 Details of the Photo Sitting
Part 3 Dialogue Woven through "Sight"

A Dialogue with Midori Kitamura Part 1

Director's Profile

This exhibition title couldn't be more straightforward.
"Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue".
There is a great deal of meaning contained in this simple title but above all, in the words "Visual Dialogue" ...They carry a certain air, whispering that this is not your ordinary photo exhibition or a clothing exhibition.

Of course, works by renowned photographer, Irving Penn, will be on exhibit. This will be the first time that visitors will have the opportunity to see his works on such a grand scale in Tokyo since the retrospective: "Irving Penn: A Career in Photography" which was held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography from November 1999 to January 2000. It will also be the first exhibition dedicated to the artist in Tokyo, since his death in 2009. For photography fans, this is a much-awaited opportunity and even for those who drop by without any prior knowledge of Penn or his work, it will without doubt, be a joyous experience.
However, the fundamental purpose of this exhibition is to "focus upon the creativity born through the two artists' visual dialogue". That is why those who understand the meaning of "Visual Dialogue" and those steeped in the knowledge of the unique working relationship between Penn and Miyake will be able to enjoy the exhibition all-the-more.
In this series, and as a highlight of the exhibition, Director Midori Kitamura will share some of the backstories from the Penn sittings and the creation of the exhibition.

But before that, who is Midori Kitamura? We will start with a story on how she came to be the director of this exhibition.

Midori Kitamura is the current President of the MIYAKE DESIGN STUDIO as well as the Creative Director and Producer of products including perfumes and watches. Midori Kitamura joined ISSEY MIYAKE in 1976 as the attaché de press.
"Nowadays, attaché de press is a well-known position in the fashion industry, but back then, nobody in Japan had ever heard of a job where one is responsible for general PR and the advertisement of a brand." Kitamura has been involved in all aspects of Issey Miyake's work, for over 35 years, including accompanying the designer to the Paris collection twice a year, creating promotional materials and videos, and even organizing exhibitions and publishing books.

After the "A-UN" Paris exhibition in 1988, Miyake's work shifted toward creating clothing that was lighter and more functional. However, just prior to that, Miyake met with Irving Penn; it was as if it was the harbinger for change. This was in 1983.
"Miyake, had admired Mr. Penn's work since he was in school, but their first true exchange came when Mr. Penn photographed Miyake's clothing for "VOGUE" magazine. Upon looking at the photo, Miyake was amazed by the fresh perspective, which soon turned into a desire to have Mr. Penn take photos of all his clothing."
Miyake's dream came true. Penn started to photograph the ISSEY MIYAKE Collection beginning with the Spring-Summer collection of 1987.

ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Spring/Summer 1987.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation
ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Autumn/Winter 1989.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation
ISSEY MIYAKE Collection Poster, Autumn/Winter 1991.
Photograph by Irving Penn. Poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Photograph copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation


Amazingly, not once in the 13 year period during which Penn photographed his collections, did Miyake visit the studio.
"Miyake followed a self-imposed rule to never be present at a photo sitting. He believed that by staying away, Mr. Penn would have a greater sense of freedom. He entrusted everything to Mr. Penn. It was then decided that I would attend the photo sessions as the stylist."
Similarly, Penn never once attended an ISSEY MIYAKE show. He listened to the descriptions of clothing that Kitamura would then bring to New York. There, he chose the clothes he wanted to photograph.
Kitamura, who knew the clothing intimately, having been present from design to its finished appearance, was placed in a vital position to work with Mr. Penn and translate the clothing through a whole new perspective that would result in a new form. "My job was to show Mr. Penn the possibilities within the clothes and then shape them into that which he wished to capture. Everything was up to me. At first, I was so nervous at these photo sittings that I could barely move."


Composition/Text: Cawaii Factory/Tamaki Harada + Mari Nakayama (Creative editors unit)

Part 1 Director's Profile
Part 2 Details of the Photo Sitting
Part 3 Dialogue Woven through "Sight"

"Irving Penn and Me" vol. 1 Taku Satoh

In celebrating the "Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue" exhibition starting September 16, leading creators from all walks of art speak to us of their fascination with Irving Penn photos.


Photographs that Delve into the Essence Up Front


──Please tell us about your connections with Irving Penn photos.

I had seen Irving Penn's photographs here and there, for example, in "The Works of Ikko Tanaka and Issey Miyake", the portrait of Miles Davis, Flowers, and fashion photography, and although every one of these left a lasting memory, they were scattered as separate "dots" in my mind. The first time these dots came together was when establishing 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT during a discussion regarding the types of exhibitions to hold and what kind of themes to feature. It was during this conversation that Issey-san presented me with various documents. This was several years ago.

What I remember most were the photograph of the woman's lips smothered in chocolate and the photograph of bread, salt, and water. When Issey-san showed me those pictures, I was blown away by Mr. Penn's ability to delve into his subjects and the exquisite skill at which he did it.

The chocolate photo is a close-in shot of a woman's lips; a look at this photograph will open your eyes to all of its intrinsic elements. The same can be said for the bread, salt, and water photo. He never shoots from an angle, and instead, he faces his subjects head-on and digs into their essence. It throws various questions to all those who see.

At the time, I was very interested in water and convinced that we could create an exhibition that focused on this very abstract but indispensable element in our daily lives. When looking at Mr. Penn's photos, I am constantly reassured that the things rolling around in our daily lives have in it the possibility to become an exhibition theme if we dig deep enough into their true essence. The experience of learning all this from a single photograph was very exciting.


──You are in charge of graphic design for this exhibition. How does it feel to work with Irving Penn's photographs in your work?

I never thought I would lay out photographs by the great Irving Penn. When Ms. Midori Kitamura, the director of this exhibition asked me to take on the design, the first thought that ran through my head was that Ikko Tanaka is the only person that can add words to Penn's photographs and I also had doubts as to whether I could fulfill such a big role.

The main visual of the flower and Mr. Miyake's clothing in one picture was proposed by Ms. Kitamura. I think this was a very daring challenge only possible by Ms. Kitamura who has worked with Penn and Issey-san over the years. Normally, when handling photographs shot by great masters such as Irving Penn, one would leave the work untouched without any trimming. It would be unthinkable to use a Penn photograph as material to be altered. However, when showing the photos of the flower and clothing in one picture, there was no choice but to add some alterations. Applying work on Penn's photograph, which was one completed piece of work in itself, was a very nerve wrecking experience. But, the honor of such rare opportunity and the chance to focus face-to-face with Penn's photograph, resulted in a visual like none before.


──Lastly, please tell us about your recent work.

A program called "Design-Ah" started on NHK Educational TV starting April and I work on the program together with Yugo Nakamura. The program speaks to children on "what is design" but it has helped us, the creators, also look back and think about its essence.

(interviewer: Keiko Kamijo)



tyen_s.jpg

Taku Satoh

Graphic Designer
Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, majoring in Design, in 1979; completed graduate course at the same university in 1981. Initially joined Dentsu Inc., then established Taku Satoh Design Office in 1984.
He has dealt with package designs for "Lotte' s XYLITOL Gum," and "MEIJI' s Oishii Gyunyu"; graphic designs for "ISSEY MIYAKE PLEATS PLEASE"; logo, signature and furniture designs for "Musashino Art University Museum & library".
His works is wide ranging, such as director of "21_21 DESIGN SIGHT" and involving in planning and art direction of "Nihongo de Asobo (Let's Play in Japanese)" and general direction of "Design Ah" which are TV programs on NHK educational channel.

"Design-Ah"

List view of "Irving Penn and Me"

Exhibition "Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue"

Photo top: Irving Penn. Poppy: Glowing Embers, New York, 1968.
Photo bottom: Flower Pleats (Issey Miyake Design), New York, 1990.
Photographs copyright by The Irving Penn Foundation


Miyake throws silent words to Mr. Penn and Mr. Penn embraces them. The two resonate in superb timing in what is to become communication. This miraculous collaboration will be introduced in the form of an exhibition and I hope that the splendor of this process and that of human creativity will provide inspiration among all those who visit.

Midori Kitamura (Exhibition Director)

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