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Peter Lindbergh, Fashion Photography Icon, Has Died at Age 74


Peter Lindbergh, the German fashion photography icon who is was credited with ushering in “the rise of the supermodel,” passed away yesterday at the age of 74. The announcement was made earlier today through Lindbergh’s official Instagram account.

Born Peter Brodbeck on November 23rd, 1944 in Leszno, Poland, Lindbergh began his artistic career as a painter. He studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in the 60s, and only discovered his passion for photography accidentally, after finding that he enjoyed taking pictures of his brother’s children. He opened his first photography studio in Düsseldorf in 1973, kicking off a professional career that spanned over four decades.

His impact on the fashion photography industry is difficult to overstate. His images of supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and actresses like Helen Mirren and Nicole Kidman have graced the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, always in black and white, always classically composed and beautifully rendered. In recent years, his comments on retouching have helped to push the fashion industry in a more positive direction.

“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,” said Lindberg in the May 2016 issue of Art Forum. “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?”

More famously, he once wrote: “This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”

Peter_Lindbergh, New York, 2016 | © Stefan Rappo

Lindbergh’s passing was announced on his official Instagram account just hours ago.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Peter Lindbergh on September 3rd 2019, at the age of 74,” reads the post. “He is survived by his wife Petra, his first wife Astrid, his four sons Benjamin, Jérémy, Simon, Joseph and seven grandchildren. He leaves a big void.”

“A big void” is an understatement. As Lindbergh’s death reverberates across the photography industry and remembrances begin pouring in from models and editors who worked with him, take a moment to review some of Lindbergh’s most iconic work and pay homage to his legacy.

Photographers the world over owe him a debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace.

Photo credit: Header photograph by Fanzineredwiki, CC BY-SA 4.0. Body photograph by Stefan Rappo