In Conversation with Peter Lindbergh

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In Conversation with Peter Lindbergh

Following the opening of his latest exhibition at the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art courtesy of the Gagosian Gallery, on the 4th of February 2016 (on until the 23rd of April) – the great man himself graced the people of Athens on Tuesday with a unique chance to chat with him about ‘Creativity’.


Credit @ Peter Lindbergh

The German photographer and director is one of the iconic photographers of the 90s, having changed the trajectory of fashion photography with his legendary January 1990 British Vogue cover. This white-shirt-ed, no-makeup-ed shot of models Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington no doubt marked the inauguration of a new generation of model – the ‘supermodel’.

The Supermodel is defined as a figure who rises above her model status and into a personality and brand of her own. She is invited to talk shows, is talked about in gossip columns, lands movie roles, creates her own products and earns money in her own right. Although nowadays much of the same can be said of the models who walk down the Victoria Secret runway (Giselle Bündchen and Cara Delavigne for example), it is of my opinion that the term has been somewhat diluted from the time when Lindbergh photographed the first generation of supermodels.

Peter Lindbergh’s supermodels were not only a new generation of models but also a new generation of woman. She is confident, independent and loves all of herself more than others love how she looks – and I was lucky enough to hear about her conception ‘straight from the horses mouth’, as they say. Lindbergh spoke of the struggles he had to overcome as a young photographer when the editor-in-chief of Vogue at the time Grace Mirabella and art director Alexander Liberman approached him for a cover. His reply to them, he says, was simply ‘I cannot shoot the women you print in your magazines’ – citing their heavy makeup, outlandish hairstyles and overly retouched finishes. Despite Mirabella being taken aback, Liberman was intrigued and offered Lindbergh the chance to do it his way.

British Vogue Cover, 1990. Photo Credit: Peter Lindbergh

British Vogue Cover, 1990. Photo Credit: Peter Lindbergh

Presenting them with that iconic photograph, he recalls them looking at him ‘like I came from Mars’ – swiftly tucking away his photograph in a drawer. It was only once Anna Wintour succeeded Mirabella in 1988 and discovered this black and white masterpiece, that Lindbergh’s potential as a game-changing figure was recognised.

The question in regards to creativity that interested me most, was how did you know this was the right thing to do? ‘I photograph what I like’ he said with confidence. Indeed it is confidence that I find to be the root of all his genius. Describing his view of creativity, he states that ‘creativity is the desire to express ourselves’ and that ‘to formulate these expressions, we have to draw from our reservoir of experience’. Although his view gives everyone access to their own version of creativity, it is only our own doubts, fears and lack of confidence in the ‘true tone we feel for ourselves and for our world’ that are in our way. This is indeed the tone of Lindbergh’s argument as he ends with the idea that true creativity lies in the ‘question of how deep we are willing to go’.

This is certainly the message that was left etched in my mind by the end of his talk, along with his opinion that once you get the ball rolling and the only opinion and authority that really matters is your own – this is the moment when you become truly creative, learning to do ‘what you wanted…with what you’ve got’.

In Conversation with Peter Lindbergh


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Written by Amalia Mytilineou

Amalia is an English Literature student currently living in London. With a love of all things couture, she always has something to say about the latest fashion, art or film event.

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