Horst P. Horst

Horst P. Horst was born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann on the November 14th 1906 in Weissenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany.

Whilst studying architecture in Hamburg, he wrote a letter filled with admiration to Le Corbusier who then invited him to join him in Paris to finish his training in his agency. However, the internship that had started in 1930 came to a sudden end as the young German seduced Montparnasse’s artistic world and was introduced to the Russian fashion photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene.

Horst became his friend and model, and the baron introduced him to Paris’ finest society of the 1930s.

Mehemed Agha, artistic director of the American Vogue offered Horst to become a photographer himself after training at Vogue’s studio in Paris.

The young German was talented and Vogue started publishing his photographs in November 1931. Condé Nast’s editor then offered him a work in Manhattan for the American edition of Vogue but Horst soon regreted his choice when he realized the studio was very small, badly equipped and that his work was boring. At the end of his 6 months’ contract, he came back to Paris.

His career changed dramatically in 1934 when George Hoyningen-Huene left for Hollywood. Succeeding to his mentor, Horst became head photographer of the Parisian Vogue.

By working with Vionnet, Chanel, Alix and Balenciaga, Horst improved his technique and his style started changing. He worked more and more on contrast and shadows, giving particular attention to sets and accessories.

Independent and recognized amongst the talented, Horst became friend with Marie-Laure de Noailles, Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel.

In 1939, he worked on “The Mainbocher Corset” in Vogue’s Paris studio. The picture became one of the great iconic photos of the Twentieth-Century.

In 1941 he applied for the American citizenship as Horst P. Horst, and received it after joining the army in 1943. Two years later, he photographed United States President Harry S. Truman, with whom he became friends, and he was invited to the White House to photograph every First Lady in the post-war period.

In the 1960s, encouraged by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Horst began a series of photos illustrating the lifestyle of international high society . The articles were written by the photographer’s longtime companion, Valentine Lawford, a former English diplomat.

From this point until nearly the time of his death, Horst spent most of his time traveling and photographing.

His last photograph was in 1991 for British Vogue with Prince Michael of Kent shown against a background of tapestry and wearing a tiara belonging to her mother in law Princess Marina.

He died in 1999 at the age of 93 in his house in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Marine Lazarus

Written by Marine Lazarus

Marine Lazarus, an Anglo-French photographer who moved to UK 3 years ago to study journalism at Brunel University in London. Marine is responsible for our Photographers Biographies section.


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