He was never concerned with staging a perfect image. Instead of putting a look in the foreground, Peter Lindbergh dealt with the human behind. He recognized emotions, moments and stories from the lives of the people standing in front of his camera. Now the star photographer died at the age of 74 years.

The unsparing beauty

Already in the 1980s Peter Lindbergh had the most beautiful women in front of his camera, which he photographed in lavishly draped dresses for the most important fashion magazines in the world. Lindbergh was one of the greats in his field. He photographed international top stars, published several extraordinary illustrated books and outstanding films. And yet his pictures never stood for perfection. Rather, the core of his work seemed to be revealing the hidden beauty in an unadorned manner. His predominantly black and white photographs showed the harsh moments of his background, which had influenced him to the very last: Lindbergh was born in 1944 as Peter Brodbeck in Poland. After his family was expelled from there, he spent childhood and youth in the Ruhr region of post-war Germany -far away from the international glamor of the fashion and film industry. He left school at 15 to complete an apprenticeship as a window dresser. Later he attended an evening course in drawing at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts and began studying at the Werkkunstschule in Krefeld after a short time as a vagabond in France, Spain and Morocco. At 27, he finally found his passion in photography. As assistant to the photographer Hans Lux, he got to know the basic concepts of craftsmanship in order to become self-employed as an advertising photographer.

Gigi Hadid by Peter Lindbergh / © Peter Lindbergh

The great adventurer

His big breakthrough came in 1978 with a fashion photo series in the German magazine “Der Stern”. Brodbeck became the stage name Lindbergh – an international name that the star photographer always associated with the great adventure. And he was an adventurer in any case: In the seventies, he moved overnight from Dusseldorf to Paris for a job with the magazine Marie Claire. “It has always been easy for me to go,” he said in a previous interview with ZEIT magazine, “the world belongs to the naive carefree.” As naive and carefree as he wanted to be in private life, he was also in his work as an artist. Instead of swimming with the stream, he founded a new era of fashion photography. After the first success, he received orders from the international fashion magazines Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair or the music magazine Rolling Stones. He worked with the biggest designers in the industry, photographing the supermodels of the 90s in the collections of Prada, Jil Sander, Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld. In only a few years he had made it a famous star photographer of the international fashion world.

Instead of swimming with the stream, Lindbergh founded a new era of fashion photography. 

Claudia Schiffer (left) and Cindy Crawford (right) by Peter Lindbergh / © Peter Lindbergh

A new beauty ideal

In 1996 Lindbergh published his first picture book “Ten Woman”, which was supplemented a year later by another work entitled “Images of Woman”. There Lindbergh showed his pictures of famous women, which he had photographed in the eighties and nineties. Even then, he coined a new ideal of beauty, which should go away from pure perfection and beauty. Lindbergh emphasized the personality of women, their individual traits and their natural aesthetics. His pictures no longer showed only young and elaborately dressed women. For Giorgio Armani, Lindbergh photographed the four more than forty-year-old supermodels Stella Tennant, Nadja Auermann, Yasmin Le Bon and Eva Herzigova under the title “New Normal” – classic black and white and without any make-up. The following year, he shot the actresses Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet and Julianne Moore almost unvarnished for the famous Pirelli calendar. In 2016 and 2017, the art halls in Rotterdam and Munich presented a major retrospective entitled “From Fashion to Reality”, with which Lindbergh consciously spoke out against the beauty ideal of today’s fashion scene.

Vanessa Paradies by Peter Lindbergh / © Peter Lindbergh

Peter Lindbergh leaves behind three extraordinary picture books, countless photo series and films one thing above all: a big gap in fashion photography. Rest in Peace. ❝

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