Peter Beard

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For other people named Peter Beard, see Peter Beard (disambiguation).
Peter Hill Beard
Born (1938-01-22) January 22, 1938 (age 77)
New York, United States
Nationality American
Occupation photographer

Peter Hill Beard is an American artist, photographer, writer, and playboy. He is known both for his hedonistic presence in the New York party scene, and for serious photographic and artistic work (particularly of Africa, where he mainly resides).[1]

Family and Personal Life[edit]

Beard is heir to two fortunes: a railroad fortune on his mother's side, and a tobacco fortune on his father's.[1] Peter's grandmother, Ruth (Hill) Beard, married, as her second husband, Pierre Lorillard IV, a tobacco magnate. A great-grandfather, James Jerome Hill, was founder of the Great Northern Railway in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. James Jerome Hill made his fortune in the railroad business, leaving as legacy both money, colonialism and art to his great-grandson Peter. While not rejecting money from this trust, Beard laments the expansion of Western capitalism into Africa.[citation needed] James Jerome Hill was a great patron of the arts and all of his heirs were exposed to and owned great collections, thus having a great impact on Peter's interest in the arts.[citation needed]

Beard was educated at Buckley, Pomfret, and Yale.[1] He entered Yale as a pre-medical student, but "perceiving humans as the main disease soon switched to art history."[2] On two early trips to Africa, in 1955 and 1960, Beard fell in love with the continent. After graduating from Yale, he traveled back to Kenya with Karen Blixen, and purchased a 43-acre (170,000 m2)[citation needed] farm in Africa. This piece of land was adjacent to Blixen's farm in Kenya, at the foot of the Ngong Hills — a property which he named "Hog Ranch".[2]

Beard married his first wife, Minnie Cushing Coleman, in 1962. The marriage only lasted briefly.[citation needed] His second wife was supermodel Cheryl Tiegs from 1981–1983.[1] Beard's third wife is Nejma Khanum. The couple has a daughter, Zara.[1]

Beard's nephew Alex Beard is a New Orleans artist and author as well.

Beard in High Society[edit]

Beard is famous not only for his photographs of endangered African elephants but also of supermodels and rock stars like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Iman, Veruschka.[1]

Beard's milieu consisted of Andy Warhol, Jackie Onassis, Lee Radziwill, Truman Capote, and Bianca Jagger who all lived and rented houses in Montauk and Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s. Beard also had a close relationship with the late painter, Francis Bacon (painter). He photographed Bacon and was also the model for several of Bacon's paintings. Beard was traveling with and photographing the Rolling Stones on the infamous Rolling Stones 1972 tour of America.[1]


Peter Beard's photographs of Africa, African animals, and the journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published.[1] His first serious work, The End of the Game, showed haunting images of starving elephants during the decline of the elephant and rhino populations in the 1960s.[2]

Beard channels most of his creative energy into his collage-work and diaries, which he began to compile in 1949 at the age of eleven. Peter Beard began keeping diaries as a child and after discovering a love of photography, used photographs to extend and enhance them. Beard read Karen Blixen's Out of Africa, which inspired him to travel to Africa in 1955. He took many pictures of the wildlife there and began putting them into collages and using animal blood and remains along with clippings to create his work.[citation needed]

In these works, he documents the history of his relationships with (among other things): Africa, Karen Blixen, the New York art scene, the fashion world, Hollywood, and the Kennedy administration. Page after page is covered with photographs of women, transcribed telephone messages, marginalia in India ink, clippings from the daily newspapers, dried leaves and insects, old sepia-toned photographs, drawings of animals and people by Kikuyu artists, quotes by Joseph Conrad, found objects, images of decaying elephant carcasses, and sometimes, Beard’s own blood.[citation needed]

Selected books[edit]

  • Beard, Peter (2004). Zara's Tales from Hog Ranch: Perilous Escapades in Equatorial Africa. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-679-42659-0
  • Beard, Peter; Beard, Nejma; and Fahey, David (2008). Peter Beard. Köln: Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8365-0877-3
  • Beard, Peter, and Caujolle, Christian (2008). Peter Beard. London and New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-41096-7
  • Beard, Peter; Dinesen, Isak; and Gatura, Kamante (1975). Longing for Darkness: Kamante's Tales from Out of Africa. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-153080-7
  • Beard, Peter, and Tunney, Peter T (1999). Peter Beard: Fifty Years of Portraits. Santa Fe, NM: Arena Editions. ISBN 1-892041-15-4
  • Beard, Peter Hill (1965). The End of the Game. New York: Viking Press.
  • Edkins, Diana, and Peter H. Beard (1995). Animal Attractions. New York: Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-1959-1
  • Graham, Alistair, and Beard, Peter (1973). Eyelids of Morning: The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society. ISBN 0-8212-0464-5
  • Turle, Gillies; Beard, Peter H.; and Greenberg, Mark (1992). The Art of the Maasai: 300 Newly Discovered Objects and Works of Art. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-394-58323-X
  • Wilson, R. L.; Martin, Greg; Beard, Peter H.; and Sandberg, Douglas (1998). Buffalo Bill's Wild West: An American Legend. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50106-1
  • Bowermaster, Jon. The adventures and misadventures of Peter Beard in Africa. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8212-1907-3


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kolker, Robert (24 February 2013). "Taming Peter Beard". New York. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Peter Beard Biography". Retrieved 18 January 2015. 

External links[edit]