Thursday, September 23, 2004

NEWSFLASH! Peter Beard is not dead. I think I got that idea because he was mauled by a tiger or some other large, dangerous animal a la Ray Horn, but in the wilderness of Africa, not the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas. Anyway, I have been ever-so-gently accused in the past of mentioning people in this blog that few recognize or know anything about, so to remedy that I am posting a little description of Mr. Peter Beard from the website kunsthawien.com, which had this delightful history of this rather fascinating rich-as-sin artiste/playboy:

"Peter Beard‘s life is of the stuff that Hollywood epics are made.

His great-grandfather G. G. Hill founded the Great Northern Railroad Company in the 19th century and by the time of his death had ammassed a fortune of some 53 million dollars. The tobacco heir Pierre Lorillard, Peter Beard‘s grandfather, founded the Tuxedo Company and was the inventor of the formal eveningdress of the same name.

Peter Beard was born in New York on January 22, 1938 and at first studied medicine, in compliance with his parents‘ wishes. His mother fancied bringing up a doctor, a governor, or a lawyer. But that was not to be: Peter Beard transferred to the art department at prestigious Yale University...

He was inspired and fascinated by Karen (“Tanja”) Blixen‘s book, “Out of Africa”, which moved him to visit Africa for the first time in the mid-50‘s. Later he made Karen Blixen‘s acquaintance, became her neighbour and photograhed her for the last time three months before her death. In 1961 he settled on Hog Ranch near Nairobi, and it is here that he found the central theme of his life: the destruction of the last animal paradises at the hands of man and civilisation. In 1965 he published his first book, “The End of the Game”, a brutal, shocking documentary of the history of wildlife in Africa as exemplified, in particular, by the dying out of the elephants...

So who is Peter Beard? A world-famous photographer, playboy, friend of the world‘s rich and beautiful, member of the New York jet set, a regular in the legendary Studio 54, a close friend of Francis Bacon‘s, Andy Warhol‘s, Truman Capote‘s, Mick Jagger‘s, Jackie Onassis‘... Peter Beard has many faces. On the outside he looks like a cross between an American movie star and an English gentleman; but he is not just an Africa adventurer and bon vivant, he is an artist and Cassandra with a camera who creates disturbing, troubling chronicles of the destruction of the earth‘s wildlife paradises. And he has been doing this for a long time."

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Here's a picture of him in the glory days of Studio 54, with Cheryl Tiegs and members of Fleetwood Mac, naturellement.

Pretty awesome stuff! His family invented the tuxedo! He's a Cassandra, friend of Jackie O., bon vivant, Studio 54 regular, adventurer! You don't meet a lot of people like that where I live, let me tell you. I'd settle for a just a Cassandra.

1 comment:

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