And Lindbergh… created woman
Galery of portraits
It’s been 30 years now that photographer Peter Lindbergh has been capturing the fragile, intimate beauty of the world’s top models and greatest actresses. While his unretouched black-and-white images were central to the fashion ethos of the 90s, the maestro has since gone beyond the industry’s confines, building up a timeless oeuvre of sincere and truthful portraits that are as dramatic as they are moving. Mixing iconic images with lesser-known shots, an exhibition at Paris’s Gagosian Gallery highlights Lindbergh’s narrative dimension.
In the middle of Paris fashion week, Natalia Vodianova and Jeremy Scott, as well as the celebrated models Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss, could all be seen squeezing through the crowds thronging to the Gagosian Gallery. For fashion pros, the opening of Peter Lindbergh’s new exhibition was not to be missed. Even Canadian film director Xavier Dolan made the trip. When introduced to the illustrious photographer being fêted that night, Dolan’s fiery temperament melted into a shyness previously unseen. His usual arrogance wiped away, he stood paralyzed like a hypersensitive kid in front of his idol. He was almost touching. But besides its anecdotal value, Dolan’s admiring silence highlights the exceptional aura that surrounds Peter Lindbergh. Through fashion, and yet somehow in spite of it, the German photographer has established himself as a portraitist who is in love with women and with the truth of being. “I don’t know how to cheat, so I take photographs in the same way I see life,” he later confides in our interview. “After this conversation I will certainly remember your gaze, but not your sweater. In the same way, I want the viewer to feel the person when looking at my images.”
True to his vision, at the end of the 1980s Lindbergh responded to a commission from American Vogue by choosing virtually unknown models whose fresh naturalness contrasted with the ultra-sophistication then in fashion among their colleagues. Hair blowing in the wind, dressed in simple white shirts, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz literally glow in these now legendary shots, their pure beauty devoid of any artifice. “My idea wasn’t to revolutionize the image of women. I just showed girls like those I’d liked at art school, wearing sneakers and jeans, and not with a crocodile-skin handbag worth $10,000.”
Lindbergh brings to light the strength of his models through their most intimate beauty, seeking their uniqueness in even their skin imperfections, which he refuses to erase or smooth out to satisfy the demands of an age plagued by the imperatives of advertising perfection.
Peter Lindbergh, à la Galerie Gagosian de Paris, jusqu’au 22 novembre.