Peter Lindbergh – gentle genius of fashion photography

Peter Lindbergh, gentle genius of fashion photography, left us September 3, 2019. German fashion photographer and film director, Peter Lindbergh, was born in Poland in 1944, after his multiple studies at the schools of art he moved to Paris.

Peter Lindberg - Pirelli Calendar 2017
Peter Lindberg – Pirelli Calendar 2017

In 1989, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington, young models then, were photographed together for the first time by him for the January 1990 British Vogue cover. Credited as the one who officially started the era of supermodels, his cover inspired singer George Michael to cast those models in the video for his song “Freedom ’90”, and around the same time Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace for his Fall–Winter 1991 fashion show featuring the new supermodels featured two years earlier in Lindbergh’s photographs. In a 2008 interview with art historian Charlotte Cotton, Peter Lindbergh explained that:

Peter Lindberg - Pirelli Calendar 2017
Peter Lindberg – Pirelli Calendar 2017

“Using black-and-white photography was really important to creating the supermodel. Every time I tried to shoot them in colour, because their beauty was close to perfection, it ended up looking like a bad cosmetics advert. With black and white, you can really see who they are. It toned down the commercial interpretation that colour gives. What’s so striking about black and white is how it really helps a sense of reality to come through.”

90s Models Reunite for Peter Lindbergh Film
90s Models Reunite for Peter Lindbergh Film

He twice photographed the Pirelli calendar, in 1996 and 2002. The latter, which used actresses instead of models for the first time, was shot on the back lot of Paramount Studios, and was described by art critic Germaine Greer as “Pirelli’s most challenging calendar yet.” Lindbergh was the first photographer in the fifty-year history of the Pirelli calendar to be invited to photograph it for a third time (for the 2017 edition).

Peter Lindberg - Pirelli Calendar 2017 - Julianne Moore
Peter Lindberg – Pirelli Calendar 2017 – Julianne Moore

Lindbergh collaborated on two complete issues of Vogue photographed by he and his assistant, Jethro Gaines of J.Gaines Studio, one celebrating Vogue Germany 30th anniversary in October 2009, and the other for Vogue Spain in December 2010.

Peter Lindberg - Pirelli Calendar 2017
Peter Lindberg – Pirelli Calendar 2017

Lindbergh photographed many music record covers, among them Jane Birkin’s single “Quoi” (1985); Tina Turner’s singles “The Best” (1989), “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” (1989), and “Foreign Affair” (1990), albums Foreign Affair (1989) and Wildest Dreams (1996), and directed the videoclip for Turner’s single “Missing You”; Sheryl Crow’s The Globe Sessions (1998) and “My Favorite Mistake” (1998); Lionel Ritchie’s Time (1998) album; Beyoncé’s I am… Sasha Fierce (2008) and I Am… World Tour promotional pictures; Mika’s No Place In Heaven (2015) and also directed the videoclip for his single “The Last Party”.

Behind The Scenes - Pirelli Calendar 2017 by Peter Lindbergh with Penelope Cruz
Behind The Scenes – Pirelli Calendar 2017 by Peter Lindbergh with Penelope Cruz

Peter Lindbergh said that “This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.” In 2016, he declared that “A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality. How surrealistic is today’s commercial agenda to retouch all signs of life and of experience, to retouch the very personal truth of the face itself?”

We all hope that Peter Lindberg answered this question…

MODELS THE FILM MOVIE by Peter Lindbergh