In Memoriam: Peter Lindbergh
Peter Lindbergh 1944-2019
Peter Lindbergh, the legendary German photographer, died yesterday, September 3rd, in Paris at the age of 74. Lindbergh is mourned by all who knew him or knew his work and honored for his impact on the fashion photography industry. He is known to have transcended the field with his radical, naturalistic and elegant aesthetic as well as his commitment to freeing women of the claustrophobic beauty standards expected in fashion photography. Lindbergh foregrounded the humanity of his subjects and achieved a level of emotion unique to his style. He is regarded as a storyteller and his photos, timeless.
Lindbergh’s black and white portraits propelled the careers of supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangalista, and Christy Turlington during a time where models were becoming household names for the first time. The new generation required a new interpretation of beauty and Lindbergh’s work was crucial to that developement. It is understood by many that his photographs did the work of asking people to question what beauty is and means.
His legacy spans four decades and even includes the first cover for American Vogue under Anna Wintour, when she became editor and chief in 1988. The cover featured Michaela Bercu in Christian Lacroix. Wintour has joined scores of the voices expressing devastation at his passing and condolences to his family. Among those voices have been the many women Lindbergh photographed whose natural beauty he ushered into the limelight. Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was photographed by Lindbergh and also collaborated with him when she guest edited the September British Vogue cover, “Forces for Change.” She has been very public about her admiration for the artist and the legacy he leaves behind.
When asked about his portraits of stars with hardly any makeup or styling for the 2017 Pirelli calender Lindbergh summed up his approach to capturing beauty. He stated, “Beauty speaks about individuality, courage to be yourself, and your very own sensibility – that's my definition of a woman today. That's the goal of the calendar – to the show the woman. And not this stretched, manipulated, emptied [person] you see in the magazines today."
Peter Lindbergh will be deeply missed and his impact remembered.