The late Irving Penn continues to be one of America’s most published and exhibited photographers. His work spanned the immediate post-war years of the 20th century, providing images of the creative icons and political personalities of the day – many of which featured in Vogue magazine USA.

Penn later founded his own studio in New York, providing leading advertisers and fashion houses with seminal photographs. Alongside this workload, Penn re-invented a particular still-life genre with a distinct nod to Chardin, De Chirico and Kurt Schwitters via the Dutch masters of the 17th century. This boundless assembly was frequently placed at the disposal of his contemplative gastronomic imagery.

At about the same time, having emigrated from war torn Belgium, the young photographer Robert Freson joined Penn in America and became his assistant. He was to work alongside Penn for some 13 years, finally going solo in 1962.

Like Penn, Freson’s work also embraced the culinary still life. However where Penn had seen fit to forge his components into stark, metaphysical assemblages, Robert Freson offered a more familiar frame of reference. This contextualization marks him out as one of the most exciting exponents of food and wine photography, then and now. An inspiring body of work began to appear in The Sunday Times magazine (UK) and Marie-Claire (France). Later, under enlightened editorship, he was to use much of this material in the publication of his two formative editions – The Taste of France in 1983, followed by Savoring Italy in 1992.

After much collaboration between Gareth Jones, our Food Editor, and Robert Freson, In Search of Taste will be publishing a selection of his innovative images, on-line as well as in print.

What will become apparent, apart from the sheer visual delight that Freson affords, is how these photographs effortlessly occupy the present. Even more evident is how much of this contemporary work continues to influence so many photographers of today.