How photographer Peter Lindbergh launched the supermodel era

Capturing Lindbergh's vision

Peter Lindbergh took this photo of Daft Punk in France in 2013. A retrospective of the German photographer's work is now on display at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. Curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, the exhibition is envisioned as a narrative that provides insight into his vision using previously unseen material, including personal notes, storyboards, props, Polaroids, contact sheets, and films.

A fashion icon

Even if you have not heard of Peter Lindbergh, you know his work well. He is credited with creating a new age in fashion photography after shooting five young models for British "Vogue," essentially launching the era of the supermodel with the pictures capturing Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington in downtown New York.

Film inspires fashion

In his signature black-and-white shots, Lindbergh introduced a new realism into photography when he began to be noticed in the late 1970s and early 80s. He frequently turned to film for inspiring backdrops and played on the prototype of the strong, self-willed woman which helped redefine the beauty norms written by the fashion industry.

A responsibility 'to free women'

Lindbergh took his position in society very seriously, saying in 2014 that his role as a fashion photographer is to "reflect a certain social or human reality." In a later interview, he clarified by saying, "This should be the responsibility of photographers today: to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection." Pictured is Milla Jovovich during a 2012 Chanel shoot.

Photography that captures humanity, warts and all

Not a fan of Photoshop, Lindbergh is known for capturing the human face in all its imperfections. "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?" he told Isabel Flower in an interview published in "Art Forum." Shown here: actress Julianne Moore in 2008.

'A dangerous form of snobbery'

Lindbergh is perhaps best known for the images he created for fashion spreads in "Vogue" and advertising campaigns shot for luxury design houses including Chanel. Still, he doesn't differentiate between his commercial and non-commercial images, calling the distinction between "commissioned" and "fine art" photography a "dangerous form of snobbery."

The responsibility of the fashion photographer

"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," Lindbergh said in "Art Forum."

The book: 'A Different Vision on Fashion Photography'

To accompany the exhibition, which will travel to other museums after its run in Rotterdam ends on February 12, 2017, the German publisher Taschen has compiled over 400 of Lindbergh's photographs in a book of the same name. The text by curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot includes greater insight into the photographer's biography and working process.

Driven to capture the human body in all its imperfections, Peter Lindbergh has revolutionized fashion photography. An exhibition in Rotterdam brings visitors into his lense, tracing nearly 40 years of his work.

A stunning new exhibition featuring the work of photographer Peter Lindbergh, "A Different Vision on Fashion Photography," offers visitors the chance to step into the world of one of the today's most influential photographers. Lindbergh, whose black-and-white images have changed the world of fashion photography since the 1980s, has overseen the exhibition at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, which opened Saturday.

Curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, a narrative of Lindbergh's work is created as visitors move through nine sections divided thematically - Supermodels, Couturiers, Zeitgeist, Dance, The Darkroom, The Unknown, Silver Screen, Icons and an exclusive Rotterdamgallery.

Featuring over 220 photographs alongside notes and storyboards, props and Polaroids all gathered from Lindbergh's studio, the exhibition offers insight into the artist's creative process and show the world through his eyes.

The supermodel era

Although the German-born Lindbergh began his career as a photographer in 1978, he became world-renowned for his portrayal of the female body and fashion spreads that positioned women as strong and self-willed after a series of images taken in downtown New York in 1989 debuted. They featured what would become the biggest names in the industry: Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlingto.

The pictures made the cover of British "Vogue" in January 1990 and the era of the supermodel was born.

Since then, Lindbergh has turned his 35 mm on everyone from Kate Moss to Julianne Moore. The results are extraordinary in their staging - Lindbergh takes great inspiration from film - and their realistic portrayals of people, blemishes and all.

The exhibition, which runs through February 12, 2017, will likewise screen "Models, The Film" (1991, 52 minutes) featuring interviews with Grace Coddington, Nicole Kidman, Mads Mikkelsen, Cindy Crawford and Nadja Auermann among others.

A monograph published by Taschen to accompany the show, "Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography" features photographs not included in Rotterdam and is available in English, German and French.

Watch video 04:40
Now live
04:40 mins.
Euromaxx | 11.09.2016

Kunsthal Rotterdam honors Peter Lindbergh

Related Subjects