"One of the world's preeminent photographers, Irving Penn is famous for insightful portraiture, surprising still life, and influential fashion work - he is less well known as a superb photographer of the female nude. His most important pictures in this genre were made over fifty years ago, when the then-young photographer engaged several artist's models in a number of intense sessions modeling only their unadorned bodies. These sessions took place on weekends and in the evenings, and were essentially an artistic antidote to the ephemeral fashion and surface world of the stylish ladies' magazines. The women Penn chose and the ways he viewed them produced nudes that were highly unorthodox by mid-twentieth-century standards: folded, twisted, and stretched, with extra belly, mounded hips, and puddled breasts, their fleshy torsos are sisters of Titian's and Rubens', while their mother in prodigality is the archaic fertility idol. Charged with powerful physical and sexual energy yet somehow chaste, they are among the most ambitious and successful nudes ever made." "The great 1949-50 nudes have rarely been seen, and the complete nude sessions have never been the subject of serious study. This volume illustrates some fifty of Penn's exquisitely wrought prints in silver and platinum, in particularly faithful reproduction. Sequenced to reveal the artist's progressive exploration of his theme, and his increasingly liberal and personal vision, the photographs constitute a remarkable whole - a frieze of life based on a love affair with earthly goddesses."--Jacket.