Weird Peter Beard

October 03, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

  Artists have always been considered a bit strange, eccentric and even a bit weird. American artist, photographer and writer Peter Beard would most likely fit the bill. Peter's large photographic prints of African animals usually become a collage with newspaper clippings, leaves, drawings, notes written in India ink, and sepia-toned images and are usually smeared with blood, mostly animal, but, sometimes his own. He collects each in a sort of diary process, recounting the memories of his unusual life.

 Peter was born in 1938 as a New York aristocrat, heir to both a railroad fortune and a tobacco fortune. The family wealth supported the collection of great art, which probably fueled Peter's interest in art and beauty. At the age of 12 he began photographing and keeping a journal or diary of his activities. He entered Yale University in 1957 to study pre-med, but, switched his major to art history. Inspired by earlier trips to Africa in 1955 and 1960, he traveled to Kenya after graduation. While working at Tsavo National Park he photographed and documented the destruction of 35,000 elephants and other wildlife which would be the basis for his first book, "The End of the Game".

 While in Africa he purchased a property in the Ngong Hills adjacent to the coffee plantation owned by fellow writer, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), author of "Out of Africa". Beard would use this property as his life-long home base in East Africa. A close encounter with an elephant almost cost him his life in 1996, after the elephant gored and crushed him against a termite mound, severing an artery in his thigh and breaking his pelvis into several pieces.

 Peter has photographed many beautiful people including some supermodels. He was once married to supermodel Cheryl Tiegs. Beard is also given credit for discovering Iman, another supermodel, who married musician David Bowie in 1992. Upon Bowie's death in 2016, Iman wrote, "the struggle is real, but, so is God."

 Peter has also worked, sometimes collaborated with other acclaimed artists such as Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth, Francis Bacon, Truman Capote, Richard Lindner, Salvador Dali and the aforementioned Karen Blixen.

 I cannot say that I agree with all of Beard's choices in life, however, I can say that his passion and dedication to the creation of beautiful and differently interesting images are undeniable. His love and appreciation of Africa, wildlife and beauty should be applauded. May we all be so moved.

 

 

 


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