Peter Lindbergh dies, photographer created supermodel era
today Sep 4, 2019
One of the big names of fashion photography has died with Peter Lindbergh passing away at the age of 74. He had continued to work up to the end and shot the cover for the recent issue of British Vogue’s edition guest-edited by the Duchess of Sussex.
But he’s best known for the black and white imagery that helped to define the 1990s, fashion’s supermodel era that was personified by big names such as Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Tatjana Patitz who were frequently in front of his lens .
Lindbergh was born in 1944 in Germany and began his fashion career as a window dresser at the Karstadt and Horten department stores in Duisburg, although his influences also came from the coastal and industrial backdrop of his hometown Duisburg.
He studied art and after graduating moved to Düsseldorf in 1971, starting work as a photographer, initially as assistant to Hans Lux, ahead of opening his own studio in 1973.
He worked for Stern at the same time other big names Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Hans Feurer. But his style was very different from theirs and was marked by a realism and almost documentary feel that became hugely influential later in his career.
Known for his dislike of the excessive retouching that was the norm back then, he later said he welcomed the chance to free women from standards that insist on perfection as there was a lot more that was interesting about his subjects than just looking young.
His biggest impact on fashion started in 1988 when he photographed a clutch of the soon-to-be-supermodels wearing white shirts. Then came the January 1990 British Vogue cover featuring Evangelista, Campbell, Patitz, Crawford and Turlington, and that also led to them appearing in a George Michael video, as well as becoming the most in-demand models of their generation on the runways, for editorials and ad campaigns.
In a later interview he said that shooting them in black and white was key as “their beauty was close to perfection” and when he tried colour “it ended up looking like a bad cosmetics advert. With black and white, you can really see who they are. Black and white really helps a sense of reality to come through.”
But Lindbergh was also known for other work including directing films and documentaries, photographing movie posters (such as those for The Hunger, Pedro Almodóvar's Talk To Her, and The Look) and covers for music releases, such as singles and albums by Jane Birkin, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, Lionel Ritchie and Beyoncé.