American photographer Irving Penn carved out a towering career over the course of 60 years.

The breadth of that career shines through in this exhibition of portraits, from his early work with Vogue through to his last pieces only a couple of years ago.

Working exclusively in black-and-white, Penn pioneered a style of portrait photography that is now ubiquitous – with innovators, imitation is the true measure of influence.

Rather than shooting his famous subjects, from Alfred Hitchcock to Nicole Kidman and plenty in between, in their daily lives or on contrived, elaborate sets, Penn instead shot them in near-empty studios, with only a simple prop competing for space in the frame, magnifying expressions and intensifying the overall impression of the subject.



» National Portrait Gallery, 2 Saint Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE  Leicester Square ( Until Jun 6. £10