Peter Lindbergh

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Peter Lindbergh
Born Brodbeck
(1944-11-23)November 23, 1944
Leszno, Germany
Nationality German
Spouse(s) Petra Sedlaczek (married 2002)

[1]Peter Lindbergh (born Brodbeck on November 23, 1944[2]) is a German photographer and director.

Early life[edit]

Lindbergh was born on November 23, 1944 in Leszno, Poland (the city was annexed by Germany as part of Reichsgau Wartheland between 1939 and 1945). He spent his childhood in Duisburg.[3]

As a teenager, he worked as window dresser for the Karstadt and Horten department stores in Duisburg. Coming from a part of Germany close to the Dutch border, North Rhine-Westphalia, he spent summer holidays with his family in the Netherlands on the coast near Noordwijk. The vast beaches and the industrial settings of his hometown Duisburg, have influenced his work strongly over the years. In the early 1960’s, he moved to Lucerne and months later to Berlin where he enrolled the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. He hitchhiked to Arles in the footsteps of his idol, Vincent van Gogh. Lindbergh remembers these years: "I preferred actively seeking out van Gogh’s inspirations, my idol, rather than painting the mandatory portraits and landscapes taught in art schools". After several months in Arles, he continued through to Spain and Morocco, a journey that took him two years.[4]

Returning to Germany, he studied Abstract Art at the College of Art in Krefeld (North Rhine-Westphalia). Influenced by Joseph Kosuth and the Conceptual art movement, he is invited in 1969, before graduating, to present his work at the renowned avant-garde Galerie Denise René / Hans Mayer . After moving to Düsseldorf in 1971, he turned his attention to photography and worked for two years assisting German photographer Hans Lux, before opening his own studio in 1973. Becoming well known in his native country, he joined the Stern magazine family along with photography legends Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Hans Feurer.[5][6] Known for his memorable cinematic images, Peter Lindbergh is recognized as one of the most influential contemporary photographers.



Considered a pioneer in photography, he introduced a form of new realism by redefining the standards of beauty with his timeless images, influenced by documentary photographers, street photographers and photojournalists like Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand. His humanist approach and singular vision of women sets him apart from the other photographers as he privileges their souls and the personality. He changed drastically the standards of the fashion photography in times of excessive retouching considering that there is something else that makes a person interesting, beyond their age. In a 2014 interview he mentions that : « This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.[7]

He photographs his subjects in their "pure" state, « in all honesty », avoiding all stereotypes as he privileges a face with hardly any make-up, in a baring that enhances the authenticity and the natural beauty of his women, he proposed a new interpretation of what was the women post-1980’s. British journalist Suzy Menkes wrote that Lindbergh is «Refusing to bow to glossy perfection is Peter Lindbergh's trademark – the essence of the images that look into each person's unvarnished soul, however familiar or famous the sitter.[8]»

Back in 1988, Lindbergh garnered international acclaim by showing a new generation of models all dressed in white shirts that he had recently discovered and launched their careers. A year later, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington,[9][10] young models then, were photographed together for the first time by him for the legendary January 1990 British Vogue cover. Credited as the one who officially start the era[11] of Supermodels, his cover inspired singer George Michael to cast those models in the video for his song "Freedom '90",[12] 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.[13] In a 2008 interview with art historian Charlotte Cotton, he explained that: « 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. »[14]

Lindbergh shot twice the Pirelli calendar, in 1996 and 2002. The latter, which featured actresses instead of models for the first time, was shot on the back lot of Universal Studios,[15] and was described by Australian art critic Germaine Greer as "Pirelli's most challenging calendar yet."[16]

Movies and Music[edit]

Lindbergh directed a number of critically acclaimed films and documentaries ; Models, The Film (1991); Inner Voices (1999), which won the Best Documentary Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2000 ; Pina Bausch, Der Fensterputzer (2001) and Everywhere at Once (2008), narrated by Jeanne Moreau was presented at the Cannes Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival in 2008.

He photographed the movie poster for Tony Scott's cult movie The Hunger (1983) featuring David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve, and the album cover for the soundtrack, Pedro Almodóvar's movie poster for Talk To Her (2002) and also Charlotte Rampling's documentary The Look (2011).

Lindbergh photographed many music album covers, among them Jane Birkin's single Quoi [17](1985); Tina Turner's single The Best (1989), I Don't Wanna Lose You (1989), the Foreign Affair single and Foreign Affair album covers, theWildest Dreams (1996) album cover and directed the videoclip for Turner's single[18] 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.[19]

Exhibitions and museum collections[edit]

Lindbergh's works are part of many prestigious permanent collections of Fine Arts Museums. Among them, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Fondation Van Gogh in Arles (France) and the Fonds National d'Art Contemporain / FNAC (France) among others.

Multiple exhibitions presented Lindbergh’s work around the world since his photographs were included in the Victoria and Albert Museum's Shots of Style exhibition in London in 1985. A year later in Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou presented a solo exhibition of Lindbergh's photographs for Japanese brand Comme des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo. On Lindbergh, the Japanese designer notes that; "What is strong about Peter's work is the humanity inherent in his photographs. What you notice is not just the models and the clothes, but the strength of the people themselves."[20]

Lindbergh's Smoking Women, first shown in the Galerie Gilbert Brownstone in Paris in 1992, travelled to Tokyo's Bunkamura Gallery in 1994 and the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt in 1996. The same year, prompted by the reaction to the 1994 show, the Bunkamura Museum of Art presented a retrospective of Lindbergh's work, which broke the previous attendance records set by the Jacques Henri Lartigue and the Leni Riefenstahl retrospectives held by the Museum.

In 1997, Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof showed Peter Lindbergh: Images of Women, which toured museums in Hamburg, Milan, Rome, and Vienna in 1998, followed by showings at the International Photography Festival in Japan in 1999 and 2000. Irina Antonova brought Images of Women to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow in 2002, making Lindbergh the first photographer ever exhibited at the prestigious Russian institution.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art showed the exhibition Models As Muse in 2009.[21] In 2010, his exhibition, On Street, at the C/O Berlin [22] counted 90,000 visitors.

In April and May 2011, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China exhibited The Unknown, Lindbergh’s gigantic installation, which was curated by Jerome Sans. It attracted more than 70,000 visitors.[23]

From April 7 to May 10, 2014 the Meštrović Pavilion HDLU Museum in Zagreb exhibited The Unknown & Images of Women.[24] The most popular contemporary art event of the last 10 years in Croatia and neighboring countries, as per the Museum curator.[citation needed] From September 10 to November 22, 2014 Lindbergh had his first solo exhibition in Paris at Gagosian Paris.[25] Due to the exhibition success and crowds, the exhibition was extended for a month, through December 20, 2014.

From June 30 to October 12, 2015, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid exhibited Lindbergh's still lifes and portraits along with the works of Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst and Erwin Blumenfeld in the exhibition Vogue Like a Painting.[26]

Lindbergh is represented by Gagosian Gallery.



Lindbergh's work is inspired by Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Eisenstein's Potemkin, Dorothea Lange's Depression-era images, as well as by Lindbergh's own 1950s childhood, living across the Rhine from the foreboding Krupp steelworks in the industrial Ruhrland city of Duisburg.[citation needed]Famous for his narrative fashion series, his work is best known for his simple and revealing portraits, his still lifes and his strong influences from early German Cinema and industrial surroundings of his childhood, dance and cabarets, but also landscapes and outer space.


His first book, 10 Women by Peter Lindbergh, a black-and-white portfolio of ten contemporary models, Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Amber Valletta, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer, Kristen McMenamy & Tatjana Patitz was published in 1996 and sold more than 100,000 copies as of 2008.[6] He collaborated to many special projects among them two complete issues of Vogue photographed by him, one celebrating Vogue Germany 30th anniversary. He is the only photographer to have three different portfolios dedicated to his work by Stern series. In 2014, Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporter Without Borders), the non-profit organisation consulting for United Nations and UNESCO, invited Lindbergh to create a magazine with his photographs to promote freedom of press and freedom of information.

Special Projects[edit]

  • 1996: Stern Fotografie - Smoking Women - Portfolio N°5 by Peter Lindbergh, Te Neues publishing. [13] ISBN 978-3570122990
  • 2002: Stern Fotografie - Invasion - Portfolio N°29 by Peter Lindbergh, Te Neues publishing. [14] ISBN 978-3570193471
  • 2006: I Grandi Fotografi of Corriere Della Sera by Peter Lindbergh (Part of the series with Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton, Henri Cartier-Bresson) [15]
  • 2007: Stern Fotografie Portfolio N° 47 by Peter Lindbergh, Te Neues publishing. [16] ISBN 978-3-570-19733-2
  • 2009: Vogue Germany, 30 years anniversary issue by Peter Lindbergh, October 2009, Condé Nast publications [17]
  • 2010: Vogue Spain, special issue by Peter Lindbergh, December 2010, Condé Nast publishing. [18]
  • 2014: Peter Lindbergh:100 photos pour la liberté de la presse. Reporters Sans Frontières ISBN 978-2362200267

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1996: Lindbergh received the Raymond Loewy Foundation Award.[19]
  • 2014: Lindbergh was honored for his longtime contributions to AIDS awareness at the annual amfAR New York Gala at Cipriani Wall Street alongside activist Vanessa Redgrave. Robin Wright presented him with his award, praising his extraordinary generosity towards amfAR, which was on display that night with two lots that he donated to the event’s live auction. In his acceptance speech, Lindbergh acknowledged his fellow honoree Vanessa Redgrave, saying “I’ve learned from your life how important it is to stand up for what you believe in.”[29]


  1. ^ Cotton, Charlotte (Fall 2008). "Peter Lindbergh, the Image Maker". The Observer. Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ Lindbergh, Peter. "Peter Lindbergh website Biography". 
  3. ^ "Biographical overview", Accessed 16 November 2011.
  4. ^ Ian Philips, "The Image Maker" The Independent, 14 September 1997.
  5. ^ "Peter Lindbergh", in Photo Box: Bringing the Great Photographers into Focus (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009; ISBN 978-0-500-54384-9), p.414.
  6. ^ a b Peter Lindbergh: Images of Women" (Germany: Snoeck, 2008; ISBN 9783936859898), p.95.
  7. ^ Small, Rachel (November 2014). "A Search of Truth". Condé Nast. Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ Menkes, Vogue (September 2015). "Suzy Menkes Vogue". Condé Nast. Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ Naomi, Linda, Tatjana, Christy, Cindy by Lindbergh,1990, Los Angeles Times. 1990
  10. ^ "January 1990". Vogue Magazine Archive. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  11. ^ "Cindy Sees". Vogue UK. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  12. ^ Rogers, Patrick (August 2015). "Freedom!", Vanity Fair pp 144-147.
  13. ^ Milligan, Lauren (February 12, 2015). "Donatella; Your supermodels need you!". Condé Nast. Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  14. ^ Cotton, Charlotte (Fall 2008). "Peter Lindbergh, The Image Maker". The Observer London. The Observer. Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  15. ^ Pit Lane News, Pirelli Calendar,
  16. ^ Germaine Greer, "Get your kit on", The Guardian, 13 November 2001
  17. ^ "Jane Birkin - Quoi". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  18. ^, retrieved 2015-10-23  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^, retrieved 2015-10-23  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Phillips, Ian (October 23, 2011). "The Independant London". Independant. Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ [3]
  24. ^ [4]
  25. ^ [5]
  26. ^ [6]
  27. ^ film presentation on the Tribeca film festival website
  28. ^ "Kunsthal Rotterdam Sets Peter Lindbergh Retrospective". WWD. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  29. ^

External links[edit]