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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Friday, October 18, 2019

Into the Wild: Journey into the World of Peter Beard

Photographer, collector, diarist, and writer Peter Beard (January 22, 1938) has fashioned his life into a work of art; the illustrated diaries he kept from a young age evolved into a serious career as an artist and earned him a central position in the international art world. He was painted by Francis Bacon and painted on by Salvador Dalí, he made diaries with Andy Warhol and toured with Truman Capote and the Rolling Stones—all of whom are brought to life, literally and figuratively, in his work. As a fashion photographer, he took Vogue stars like Veruschka to Africa and brought new ones—most notably Iman—back to the U.S. with him.

 After spending time in Kenya and striking up a friendship with the author Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) in the early 1960s, Beard bought a piece of land near hers. He witnessed the dawn of Kenya’s population explosion, which challenged finite resources and stressed animal populations—including the starving elephants of Tsavo dying by the tens of thousands in a wasteland of eaten trees. So he documented what he saw—with diaries, photographs, and collages. He went against the wind in publishing unique and sometimes shocking books of these works. The corpses were laid bare; the facts carefully recorded, sometimes in type and often by hand. Beard uses his photographs as a canvas onto which he superimposes multi-layered contact sheets, ephemera, found objects, newspaper clippings that are elaborately embellished with meticulous handwriting, old-master inspired drawings and often swaths of animal blood used as paint. ( His style has influenced countless art directors and art journal/diary folks)

In 2006 TASCHEN published the book that has come to define his oeuvre, signed by the artist and published in two volumes. It sold out instantly and became a highly sought after collector’s item. The books were re-released in one volume, (a handsome hardcover edition revised by Nejma Beard with new images never published before). But alas it sold out as well. You can snag one from re-sellers for a hefty price but I think it is still worth it!




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"Beard’s unique photo-collage style may not fall within any particular genre, but the diaries, stuffed with pictures of wildlife as well as the people who impacted his life, represent a true and original snapshot of both his passions and his era. He doesn’t however consider himself an artist, preferring to describe himself as an “adventurer, explorer, photographer and writer”. And although there are ecological themes in Beard’s work, he also denies being an environmentalist. In short, Peter Beard defies being categorized."
two prints, taped together at back vertically; left print: partial view of page and side view of pages behind; sliver fist atop pages; TLC, photograph of giraffe attached with paper clip; LRC, pink matchbook glued onto print; R print: collage of fashion photographs; photograph of a book at L edge center, extending onto L print; feather attached to print at LL edge
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Peter Beard Designfather
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2 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I can say that I like the imagery it brings the old scenario! The Peter. I remember him from way back... His work is amazing as always.

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  2. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.

    ReplyDelete