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PRINT January 2010

passages

Irving Penn

“TURN YOUR HEAD A TINY BIT TO THE LEFT. . . . Good, but a little higher . . . Yes yes, a little higher still . . .” Click.

“Now what would happen if you’d put your hand to your left cheek? Not that far up, a bit lower . . . the index right on the jawline . . . There, yes there, great!” Click.

“Could we try the same with the head much lower . . .”

I’m posing for Irving Penn, and once again everything hurts. As I follow his directives I know that by the end of the day—no sitting I’ve ever had with Penn lasted less than two hours—the great ache spreading down my neck and across my shoulders will only be allayed by several aspirin and a very long hot bath. How odd, I mused when I first posed for him as a teenager, to associate this gentlest, most benevolent of men with pain. Well, not so strange, I came to realize some years later, when I posed for him as a young bride, and again as a grown-up

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