Peter Lindbergh (born 1944) is one of the most significant and sought after fashion photographers of the past forty years, and was closely associated with the rise of the ‘supermodel’ during the 1980s.
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Lindbergh was born on 23 November 1944 in Leszno, Poland, and grew up in a working class family in Duisberg, Germany. His parents were not artistic but he developed a love for art and painting by looking through books. He worked as a window dresser for Larstadt and Horten, a local department store, and enrolled at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1960s. Inspired by his idol, Vincent Van Gogh, Lindbergh moved to Arles for almost a year, and then embarked a journey hitchhiking through Spain and North Africa. He went on to study free painting at the College of Art in Krefeld.
He switched his attention to photography in 1971 when he became an assistant to the German photographer, Hans Lux, for two years, before opening his own studio in 1973. Becoming well known in his native country, he began to work for Stern Magazine, along with his contemporaries in photography, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Hans Feurer.
In 1978 Lindbergh moved to Paris, and within a few years had become one of the most in-demand fashion photographers in the world – an incredible achievement considering his background. His biggest break came in 1988, when the newly appointed editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, signed him to the magazine. This was the era of the ‘supermodel’ and Lindbergh became one of the phenomenon’s principal instigators. The ultimate example of this was his January 1990 cover for British Vogue that featured Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington.
Lindbergh prefers to photograph models without make-up and his images are often simple and pared-down, focusing on the face of an individual rather than the clothes they wear. His portraits are revealing and yet always elegant and timeless. Journalist Suzy Menkes has stated: ‘Refusing to bow to glossy perfection is Peter Lindbergh’s trademark, the essence of the images that look into each person’s unvarnished soul, however familiar or famous the sitter.’
Exhibitions and Awards
Lindbergh has continued to work as a leading fashion photographer in the intervening years, and has been fêted as one the most influential photographers of his generation by critics and museums worldwide. His public exhibitions include the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (2002) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010). Lindbergh has directed a number of critically acclaimed films and documentaries, including Inner Voices (1999) which won the Best Documentary Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2000.
Lindbergh lives between Paris, New York and Arles and had been married twice. He has four children.