PETER LINDBERGH – THE AGE THAT REACHED ETERNITY

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He has the aptitude for finding genuine beauty in people and the world. He hates retouching. He can’t stand make-up. He adores eye wrinkles because he insists that this is “the very proof that a person has smiled sincerely and often enough”. He defines himself as a Mohican. The last one! He is the world-renowned Peter Lindbergh. The photographer, the prodigy, the legend! The man whose name sometimes remains hidden behind his photographs and whose photographs can hardly be mistaken by anyone. Because they are deep, emotional, black-and-white, sincere, raw… They are genuine!


 

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Peter Lindbergh was born in 1944 in East Germany, in a town located in close proximity to the border with Poland, but grew up in the West-German city of Duisburg. As the most vivid childhood memory, the photographer points out the time he spent on his grandfather’s farm. There, the little boy never stopped admiring the visual contrast that unfolded before his eyes: on one side of the River Rhine there spread lush green landscapes, while on the other – their complete opposite in the concrete faces of numerous factories. Lindbergh claims that is was namely this childhood memory that played a major role in inspiring him later on to take up photography. And to create contrasts!

And by saying later on, we mean many years later, because Peter Lindbergh had another passion – Vincent van Gogh, whom he worshipped as an idol. It is namely this Dutch painter that inspired Peter, after finishing high school, to enrol in the Art Institute in Krefeld, where he studies painting. The palette and brushes, however, do not bring the young talent the unadulterated pleasure that he is looking for and he chooses another path – painting with light. To the greatest fortune of the fashion world, apparently!

The first time Lindbergh takes a camera in his hands is shortly after his 27th birthday. He is then the assistant of photographer Hans Lux until 1973 when, having already gained sufficient experience, he moves to Düsseldorf and starts working as an independent advertisement photographer.

Like most great artists, at first his works are not appreciated. What is even more, his photographs are called “spontaneous and somewhat tasteless”. Or at least this is so until 1978, when Stern Magazine publishes some of his photographs that bring him international fame. As you might have already guessed, the public interest towards the person behind the camera starts growing, which makes Lindbergh move to Paris. From then on, work follows with magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Yorker. This also includes photoshoots with then young Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and TatjanaPatitz.


 

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The style of his photographs grows more and more recognisable. The shots are black-and-white and they capture the natural beauty of Hollywood celebrities, taking away the usual glamour. Lindbergh believes that it is the photographer’s duty to liberate women from the chains they put themselves in while striving for perfection. And he manages to do so! They say that he is a “soul hunter”, because he is the only one to show the pure and unadulterated self of his models! It is a matter of fact that every single woman in front of his camera looks different compared to the hundreds of other photoshoots she has ever been part of.

Every person who has at some point or somehow worked with Peter Lindbergh knows his rules. The magazines he works with are made to sign contracts that the photographs should not be improved and/or retouched in any possible way. Because there is no place for editing, this is art. Perfection! This is Peter Lindbergh’s world. Pure and sincere!


 

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One of Lindbergh’s last major projects is the “Forces for Change” photoshoot for this year’s September issue of British Vogue, which is under the aegis of HRH The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle. The project, as the name suggests, aims to present several women that have in them the forces for change. Among the faces that stand before Peter Lindbergh’s camera are American actress Jane Fonda, young Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and New Zealand’s Prime Minister JacindaArdern. Some of these women who meet Lindbergh for the first time in their lives, however, could hardly guess that this was also the last.

The news about the demise of the famous photographer came unexpectedly, breaking the heart of everyone in the fashion world and in the whole other world, for that matter, who has ever come close to the oeuvre of this legend. Through an Instagram post, on behalf of his relatives, the sad news was announced that on the 3rd of September 2019 Lindbergh left this world, “leaving a gap”.


 

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We do believe that sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Whatever we say, write, or try to explain about Peter Lindbergh’s genius would be out of place compared to any of his photographs. These black-and-white images capture moments of truthfulness and they tell the story of his life in the best possible way. He created magic! With light, with people, with time… A kind of magic we are going to miss tremendously!

Text: Annie Georgieva
Photos: Instagram

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