A Revolutionary Pillar of Beauty and Humanism
In today’s world of Photoshop and fillers, it isn’t easy to see people for who they truly are. A majority of the media seen by consumers has been retouched almost beyond recognition, and the human body’s natural form has become a rare sighting. Late fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh didn’t accept this. Lindbergh paved his own way, going against modern media’s perfectionism for over four decades, and showing the world that we are all simply human beings.
Lindbergh had a way about him that made his people feel comfortable revealing themselves to the world. His subjects were nearly transparent, letting emotion take center stage, as opposed to perfect hair and makeup. His focus was on developing a timeless and humanistic romanticism in his work, most recognizable by his monochromatic portraits. In 2016, he told CNN, “The first rule of beauty is truth.”
Born Peter Brodbeck in 1944, Lindbergh grew up in Germany and began his artistic journey at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts before moving on to studying free painting at the College of Art in Krefeld. He began focusing on photography a few years later and moved to Paris in 1978 to pursue his new career. Lindbergh joined the U.S. Vogue team in the mid-1980s, shooting Anna Wintour’s first cover in 1988. Two years after his cover with U.S. Vogue, Lindbergh propelled the careers of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford when shooting for British Vogue’s cover in 1990. Lindbergh’s reputation was then anchored in the rise of the supermodel forever. Lindbergh has been considered a pioneer in photography for his take on realism and his redefinition of beauty standards. Despite being a fashion photographer of campaigns for Dior, Prada, Armani, and more, Lindbergh paid more attention to the soul and personality of his models than their clothing. He’s quoted on his website saying, “If you take out the fashion and artifice, you can then see the real person.” Lindbergh was one of the first photographers to include a narrative in his fashion series, bringing a new vision of art and fashion.
In 2016, he shot his third Pirelli tire company calendar, showing movie stars, such as Nicole Kidman and Charlotte Rampling, all devoid of makeup. His most recent high-profile project was 15 monochrome portraits for the September issue of British Vogue. The spread featured subjects including Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda, and Adut Akech. He worked closely with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex who guest-edited the issue. In the May 2016 issue of Artforum, Lindbergh declared, “A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality.” That was just what he did. His work appears in the permanent collections of fine-art museums around the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In the words of our founder and publisher, Al David, “There are two things that we will remember all our lives and at our death – who we loved and who loved us.”
Writer: Tara McDonough
Peter Lindbergh on set with Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford & Linda Evangelista, New York, 1990
© Jim Rakete
Courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris