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Remembering Peter Lindbergh Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

4 September 2019

Fashion photographer Peter Lindebergh passed away yesterday in Paris after a career spanning over four decades in the industry he inspired with his unique vision.

Born in Poland to German parents in 1944, he was a refugee at two months old, fleeing Russian troops. The family settled in Duisburg, a German industrial center that wold inspire his photography for the rest of this life.

He got a job in a department store at the age of 14, ending his academic career before resuming it to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin. He was inspired by the work of van Gogh, spending a year in Arles.

His interest in photography came from photographing his brother's children. He assisted German photographer Hans Lux for two years before moving in the early 1970s to Dusseldorf to open his own photo studio. But there was another photographer with his birth name of Peter Brodbeck, so he changed his name to Lindbergh.

In 1978 he moved to Paris to pursue the career in fashion photography that would make him famous.

He worked with my fashion designers and international magazines, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker. He shot the Forces for Change feature in the September issue of British Vogue guest edited by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex:

He is remembered first of all for the January 1990 cover of British Vogue that he shot using supermodels Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Tatjana Patitz in downtown Manhattan.

"It was the first picture of them together as a group," Lindbergh recalled. "I never had the idea that this was history. Never for one second."

He also shot campaigns for Dior, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Lancôme.

He found beauty beyond the clothes, creating portraits set in reality rather than shots fabric draped over mannequins. He preferred shooting models in black-and-white because "you can really see who they are."

Consequently, he was against Photoshopping models -- and even makeup -- on ethical grounds. "It should be a duty for every photographer working today to use his creativity and influence to free women and everyone from the terror of youth and perfection," he wrote in Shadows on the Wall.

And the models remembered him. Charlize Theron wrote, "Peter Lindbergh was a genius and an absolute master of his craft. Beyond that, what made him truly one of a kind was his consistent kindness, warmth and incredible sense of humor. One of the best human beings I have ever met."

"His ability to see real beauty in people, and the world, was ceaseless, and will live on through the images he created," said Edward Enninful, editor of UK Vogue. "He will be missed by everyone who knew him, worked with him or loved his pictures."

His work was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among others. His Web site has a number of his images. The New York Times published a slide show of eight never-before-seen images.

He also directed a number of films and documentaries. His film Inner Voices won best documentary at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival.

He is survived by his wife Petra, his first wife Astrid, his four sons Benjamin, Jérémy, Simon, Joseph and seven grandchildren. He was 74.

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