The Hand of Miles Davis, New York


Silver print toned with selenium mounted on cardboard

48 x 47 cm (18 7/8 x 18 1/2 in.)

According to a close-up that isolates it from any anecdotal context, the subject of this photograph is Miles Davis’ left hand. Seen from the front, it opens up, fingers stretched out except for the ring finger, folded as if to press the key of an invisible trumpet.

Irving Penn first made his name through his fashion photographs and as a portrait photographer of artists, musicians and filmmakers of his time. Initially conceived in a relatively classic format, with the subjects portrayed in a standing position, well in evidence, over the decades, his portraits gained in complexity, playing on the physical and professional characteristics of his models, isolating them, sometimes going as far as eliminating the face.

Acquired by the Pinault Collection, the work The Hand of Miles Davis (C), New York was presented to the public at the 2015-2016 solo exhibition “Irving Penn, Resonance” held at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice.