My Mid-1990s Article about the Late Great Fashion Photographer Peter Lindbergh for Australia’s ‘not only Black+White’ Magazine.

Peter Lindbergh has always been damn near impossible to get in touch with, not because he wants to be alone but more for the fact that he is so much in demand for editorial and advertising shoots, and just recently for awards presentations and the openings of his own photography shows, that he is booked up months ahead.

It is not the money either. I tried to offer Lindbergh the first ad in a lucrative and creatively open campaign for a Swiss watch manufacturer earlier this year, and he could not fit it in until well after the first picture was due to run. So the problem remains: How do you portray the supreme fashion portraitist without actually getting to him in the flesh?

The clue lies in his own quotes and photographs and films, and comments made by some of the people who know him best. I hope to cut through this thicket to get to some essence of the man himself, and why he does what he does.

First for the visual evidence. In summer of 1995 Lindbergh took on the 1996 Pirelli calendar shoot, in a move away from the kind of high gloss beautifully executed production that Richard Avedon made of it the year before. There could not be a greater contrast between Avedon’s colour sheet film studio style with the lighting placed exactly just so, the wind machine velocity precisely set, and the props and wispy garments chosen and placed on the supermodel with painful accuracy. As an expression of the Avedon beauty aesthetic it was spot on.

This year, it is Lindbergh’s 35mm high speed monochrome on location, as if it were a movie shoot. Lindbergh himself commented about this change in direction. “It was a deliberate choice,” he says, “because, when you work in colour what you are looking for is a sort of first-degree reality, whereas in black-and-white you can elaborate on that reality. You go further. I also wanted to create a relaxed work atmosphere for myself and my crew, with objects scattered about informally – a fan here, some forgotten chairs there. Only with black-and-white can one convey that kind of authenticity.”

The setting in the Mojave Desert contains all the furniture of an apparent feature film shoot, with ultra-high output HMI lights, movie cameras on tracking dollies, director’s chair, and black studio backdrop casually popping up in the photographs. Some of Lindbergh’s Harpers Bazaar fashion shoots had featured a similar movie set look. Was this artistic pretension or wishful thinking on the photographer’s part?

“It’s not accidental,” says Lindbergh. “I wanted to create a working atmosphere. All the objects used in these pictures have been used to make them. They were real tools. Portraying women in a real technical setting has always fascinated me. I like that backstage feeling. It’s not pretentious: it adds a technical aspect which contrasts with the femininity of the photographs.”

It is also evidence of his other career, as a director. Lindbergh made a ten minute promo short at the same time as the stills shoot, hardly necessary as Pirelli calendars are strictly not for sale. Their 40,000 odd print run is always spoken for well before they appear, by the executives, celebrities and journalists on the mailing list. The Pirelli calendar is a media event, in the same way as Lindbergh’s debut documentary on supermodels, Models: The Film was the much anticipated fashion event of 1992.

Models is a walk through several disjointed days in the lives of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Linda Evangelista, and Tatiana Patitz as they are photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar. This 45 minute monochrome film is as much a celebration of the supermodel phenomenon as it is documentation of one aspect of these women’s lives.

Stylistically it is incredibly close to Lindbergh’s photography, with a kernel of romantic nostalgia for the great days of classical pre-Technicolor film-making. Campbell plays at being a helium-voiced Josephine Baker, trying to add another hyphen to her job description, Evangelista sits down on a Brooklyn street corner, marcelled black hair à la the height of the Thirties, and haltingly plays the piano accordion like a waif from an Italian Neo-Realist movie.

Then the girls all hang with the home boys at Coney Island after a shoot on the beach, all giggles and camping it up and ogling the sights. The film shows them as real human beings despite the untouchable aura that supermodeldom carries, so that without the makeup and the hair and the clothes these five could just be an especially good-looking gang of sorority sisters on the lam from college.

Lindbergh is in love with their personalities, but as to the photographer himself, Modelsdoes not tell us much more. He is an ever-present absence throughout, except when Evangelista complains at the end that “You’re all in my light,… Pete!”

To shed some light on the photographer, let’s go back to his origins. His biography tells us he was “born on the Polish border of war-torn eastern Germany, in 1944. Peter Lindbergh spent his childhood in the West German town of Duisburg, where his family moved in with his uncle after World War II left them with nothing.”

“As a boy,” it continues, “Lindbergh spent all his free time outdoors. In Duisburg his uncle worked as a sheep farmer with a herd of 3,000, which he kept on a rented parcel of land near the Rhine river.” Ah ha, a clue! Is this where his love of the landscape comes from? It goes on. “On one side of the river was green grass and trees. On the other side was heavy industry, populated with factories, where the boats came up to load.” Some of Lindbergh’s most striking fashion images of the mid-1980s, for Comme de Garçons, were set in decayed factory buildings.

The 1993 Ilford calendar that doubled as a Lindbergh retrospective contains this explanation. “In 1984 I was very much into machine and factory pictures. One reason was the great German tradition of black-and-white expressionism in films directed by Lang, Pabst and others,” he says. “The other was that I was reading everything about Rodchenko, Vertov, Tatlin and Mayakovsky and the outstanding creative energy at the beginning of the Russian Revolution.”

So despite Lindbergh always being of the moment in the models he portrays, he is a traditionalist when it comes to his inspirations. Besides the aforementioned Russian Contructivist photographers, Lindbergh’s photography bears resemblances to that of August Sander, the pre-war cataloguer of all the German character types and, as Karl Lagerfeld points out in his preface to 10 Women, the recently rediscovered fashion portraits of Rudolf Koppitz.

There is an essential Germanness in Lindbergh’s photography, and his character, that as with all Germans who leave their native country has become heightened in opposition. They are a family-oriented people, the Germans, with a hard edge to their nature and no fear of the human body with all its imperfections, naked or otherwise.

Lindbergh left his family behind while young, at 15, when he moved to Luzern in Switzerland to work as a window-dresser. After that he went to Berlin to take on odd jobs, studied drawing, dropped out and departed for Arles, hitchhiked, returned to Düsseldorf, enrolled in art school, and became a conceptual artist.

He became a photographer when he was 27, apprenticed to advertising photographer Hans Lux, then worked in that area until events took a turn. “I got into fashion photography by accident,” Lindbergh elaborates, “I did advertising photography for five years. Then one day a magazine editor [in fact the legendary Willi Fleckhaus of the equally legendary Twen] called me and said that my advertising didn’t look like advertising. He gave me a fashion story. I did it, then Sternsaw it and gave me fourteen pages.”

Then it was on to Marie Claire, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar when British Vogue’s Liz Tilberis took the helm and bought in Lindbergh and Demarchelier for a small fortune, starting a bidding war that benefited even those who stayed with Condé Nast, like Steven Meisel.

In an interview published prior to his signing to Bazaar in 1992 and well before 10 Women was simply a thought and nor more than that, Lindbergh was sceptical about venues other than the magazine page, like gallery shows. “I always said no. It’s a lot of work to do, and to do a book,” he pointed out then. “At the same time it’s a look back, and in the past few years I don’t feel like looking back.”

What retrospective shows like the one now touring Japan, Germany and America well into 1997 give the photographer is the chance to put distance between them and a part of their life, study it with detachment, tidy up the past, put it away and then go on to the next stage. It’s a cathartic act.

Late 1997 will see the release of another and larger book from the same publisher, of still lives, landscapes, portraits and fashion photographs. This second and more important book launch should be the opportunity to shed a brighter light on Lindbergh the man and the artist.

© Copyright Karin Gottschalk 1996, 2017. All rights reserved.

An Instagram post from photographer Amanda de Cadenet

Links

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An Australian Has Created the Best Makeup Brushes in the World, and Australian Cosmetics Companies and Makeup Artists are World-Class Too

During the recent problem with the black rubberized handles of Real Techniques brushes liquidizing and becoming unusable,  I began researching alternative cosmetics brush and makeup brands and made some interesting discoveries. 

First, that there is an ever-growing list of Australia-based beauty companies making cosmetics, haircare and skincare products that are world-class and that are sold not only in this country but around the world. 

Second, that a number of Australia-based and expatriate makeup artists have made their mark in the world  of fashion around the world, foremost being Val Garland and Rae Morris with a number of others steadily climbing up the ranks here and abroad. 

Third, that Rae Morris has not only produced a series of textbook-quality tomes about makeup, with Amazon Australia listing six of them, but she has also designed what might possibly be the very best makeup brushes ever, the Rae Morris™ Magnetic Range aka Jishaku Range that is made by one of the best traditional brush-makers in Japan. 

raemorris_personalset_01_1024px
Rae Morris Personal Set: “Personally selected by Rae, this 8 piece set is perfect as your own personal bag of tricks.”

Fourth, British-born and sometime Sydney-resident Val Garland, now based out of London since 1994, released her own book about how she did it and does it, ‘Validated: The Makeup of Val Garland’, in late 2018.

Fifth, that if Rae Morris’ Jishaku Range makeup brushes are beyond your reach then a number of other Australian cosmetics companies have their own more affordable makeup brushes, with Nude by Nature’s brushes and brush sets, for example, easily available in pharmacies, online retailers and chain stores around the country.

Sixth, many if not most Australian cosmetics companies include or exclusively concentrate on making products from ingredients that are cruelty-free, organic or vegan, though there are the odd exceptions.

“Donkey milk” and “snail mucus”, for goodness sakes.

I think I will pass on products containing those.

When attending a somewhat dodgy art school at a rather dodgy university in another state of Australia, the necessity of good brushes quickly became obvious to me and I still have two from that time in my possession, one a Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 4 Kolinsky Sable watercolour brush used for spotting photographic prints, and an Escoda size 12 Chungking Bristle Domed brush that I bought as a reminder of what traditional European artists’ brush making can be.

These two “natural” hair brushes entered my collection many years ago when synthetic brush-making was still in its infancy, and I am pleased that synthetic brushes are rapidly becoming the standard.

I will never buy another “natural” fibre brush again.

As to Australian cosmetics and other beauty products companies, I have been steadily compiling a handwritten list of them as I come across them online and in stores, and may well share that list with links here soon.

One very pleasing thing to note: almost all of these companies have been founded and are run by Australian women and are surely success stories worthy of my basing documentary photography and video projects on them and their achievements.

If Australian women continue to be kept out of the boardrooms of big corporations, subjected to lower pay than Australian men and given far fewer opportunities for learning and advancement, then some Australian women are clearly making their own way in the beauty industry here and abroad, and that is something well worth understanding and celebrating.

Links

  • Amazon.com.auRae Morris – “Internationally renowned for her flawless work and unique approach to makeup, Makeup Masterclass is the sixth book by this number one bestselling author, and shares all the makeup secrets of her amazing twenty-five year career.”
  • Amazon.com.auValidated: The Makeup of Val Garland
  • Crown Brush Australia – “With over 30 years of brush making tradition in the USA and world wide markets, Crown Brush Australia can offer you the largest range of professional makeup brushes with over 700 different styles.”
  • culture trip10 Australian Cosmetics Brands You Should Know
  • Escoda – “In a small town outside of Barcelona in the fall of 1933, Josep Escoda Roig (1902-1982) envisioned and created a brush factory to produce artist brushes for decorative and Fine Art. It would be the first of its kind in Spain and despite a Civil War and difficulty in obtaining raw materials, the company developed and grew. Today, the company has produced nearly 75 million brushes with close to a million brushes being produced each year. Josep Escoda’s vision and passion for producing the best brushes in the world continues to this day with his sons Josep Jr. and Ricard.
  • finder.com20 Australian beauty brands you need to know about
  • i-Dhow val garland became one of fashion’s most requested make-up artists
  • Into the GlossVal Garland, Makeup Artist
  • Nude by Nature – “Nude by Nature is committed to delivering natural, cruelty-free make-up, made with 100% natural ingredients and formulated without unnecessary chemicals, synthetic ingredients or preservatives often found in cosmetics.”
  • Nude by NatureBrushes
  • The MemoTHE CALLIGRAPHY-CRAFTED MAKEUP BRUSHES ABOUT TO CHANGE EVERYTHING – “Speak the name Rae Morris to anyone inside the global makeup game and you’ll get a knowing nod. Even if you don’t have instant recall, you’ve definitely seen Morris’s brushstrokes on A-listers like Miranda Kerr, Cate Blanchett, Pink and Jessica Biel. She’s one of the most influential face-makers Australia’s ever produced.”
  • Rae MorrisBrushes – “Rae is also the designer behind the Rae Morris Magnetic Brush Range – the first magnetic makeup brush range in the world – which has been acclaimed as not only the most innovative, but one of the best makeup brush ranges in the world.”
  • Rae MorrisMy Brushes – “Over time I became more passionate about brushes than anything else in my kit – over years I tested different designs and textures and in the process, almost without realising it, I came up with my own range of brushes. My brushes are the secret behind many of my most famous creations.”
  • Refinery29Val Garland Shares The One Piece Of Kit You Need For Great Makeup
  • SHOWstudioVal Garland
  • StreetersVal Garland
  • Winsor & Newton
  • YouTuberaemorrismakeup

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links and purchasing through them for our affiliate accounts at Adorama, Alien Skin, B&H Photo Video, SkylumSmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Unititled’.

NITV: Always Will Be, Barbara McGrady

“…In partnership with NITV, the Australian Centre for Photography presents the work of photojournalist Barbara McGrady as a free educational resource for schools across the country. Through her pioneering work, students and teachers are invited to experience the important social, political and historical events witnessed by McGrady.

Spanning 30-years, McGrady’s works are important visual and historical records that inform our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in urban areas, and offer a powerful alternative visual representation of what it means to be Kooris today….”

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Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links and purchasing through them for our affiliate accounts at Adorama, Alien Skin, B&H Photo Video, SkylumSmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Unititled’.

Visual ArtsHub: A new foundation for Australian women’s art

https://visual.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/visual-arts/visual-arts-writer/a-new-foundation-for-australian-womens-art-258076

Sheila: A Foundation for Women in Visual Art was officially launched in Perth yesterday (28 May). The initiative comes out of a swelling need for greater gender equality within the visual arts.

‘According to The Countess Report (a Sheila-funded project) women are 75 per cent of art school graduates but only 34 per cent of artists exhibited in our state museums and galleries. Gender inequality is apparent in art prizes, representation of female artists in media and the proportion of female artists represented in exhibitions at state museums,’ reminded Sheila Cruthers on the occasion of the launch.

Sheila aims to redress that in a multi-prong way: to provide scholarships for art historians and curators, assist the purchase and commission works by women artists, and run annual lecture and symposiums focused on women’s art….

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Clicking on the links and purchasing through them for our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

The Guardian: The high-fliers club: how Susan Wood captured the original rebel girls

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/sep/28/the-high-fliers-club-how-susan-wood-captured-the-original-rebel-girls

“There’s Jayne Mansfield, striding through New York in a tight dress. There’s fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg, reclining on a flight with a notepad on her lap. There’s lifestyle icon Martha Stewart, leading ducks round her property dressed in a denim romper suit. They’re all here, along with Susan Sontag, Nora Ephron and countless other celebrities, intellectuals and icons of the 20th century – and all of them women.

Susan Wood, the celebrated photographer who took these shots, found that her subjects all shared certain characteristics. “The first thing is intelligence,” she says. “The second is responsiveness. And they all had tremendous energy, joie de vivre, openness. They could understand things that weren’t quite said.”…”

Women: Portraits 1960-2000, by Susan Wood, published by Pointed Leaf Press, 2018.

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Decider: How Female Directors Dominate The Documentary World

http://decider.com/2017/05/18/how-female-directors-dominate-the-documentary-world/

SheDoc Australian Documentary Filmmaking Initiative for Women as Relevant as Ever

Social media has a habit of recycling old news as if it were new news, so little surprise that SheDoc, the joint initiative between Screen NSW and the Documentary Australia Foundation, has appeared on news feeds just as its applications deadline of March 1st looms. 

SheDoc was launched in November 2016 and is a joint initiative of Documentary Australia Foundation and Screen NSW with the support of Røde Microphones.

This initiative is not before its time, given I have witnessed and experienced discrimination for being the wrong person from the wrong side of the tracks for decades now. With luck, female documentary moviemakers who have been unable to break through the glass ceiling may begin to start seeing some cracks appear.

SheDoc’s aim is to give 4 grants per year to:

  • Encourage new voices.
  • Enable skills to be consolidated or developed.
  • Assist projects to be kickstarted.
  • Assist in building strategic audience engagement strategies.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

BBC4 ‘Women’s Hour’ Radio Show Discusses Female Cinematographers with Members of Illuminatrix

The episode of BBC4’s long-running Women’s Hour radio show broadcast on Friday 10th February considers the current state of play for female cinematographers. 

As the BAFTAs and the Oscars approach there’s one group of women who’ll still be excluded from the nominations, the cinematographers. They do beautiful work but never get the prizes. Why not?

Indeed.

Jenni speaks to two women who work as cinematographers; Vanessa Whyte, co-founder of Illuminatrix – a collective of female cinematographers and Kate Reid who has worked on shows such as Call the Midwife and Uncle.

Link:

Photography Industry Gender Equality Inches Forward with Fujifilm Camera Videos Featuring Female Photographers

Congratulations to Fujifilm for adding six videos featuring female photographers using the newly announced Fujifilm GFX 50S, Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm X-T20 cameras.

Gender inequality and female invisibility otherwise continue to be rife within all aspects of the photographic and movie industries and one of the most important ways of combatting this is with female visibility.

As the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media says in its excellent motto, “If she can see it, she can be it.”

By extension, if females see other females shooting photographs and making movies, then we may well assume that we, too, stand a chance of doing it ourselves, of making it in the creative and media industries, and even of being featured in industry PR and advertising campaigns as Fujifilm has done.

Take a look at the low percentage of female photographers featured as photography and movie industry brand ambassadors and the many articles written about gender inequality in the movie industry in particular.

It can be just as mediocre in photography and the other media and creative industries.

This tendency must be reversed with conscious efforts by industry manufacturers as well as employers and clients.

Thank you, Fujifilm, for recently adding six women to your GFX Challenges, X100F and X-T20 video series. More, please, and please add more women to your X-Photographers ranks, especially in Australia.

The Six Videos:

Fuji Guys Channel –Karen Hutton and the X-T20 in California (USA)

Fuji Guys Channel – Valerie Jardin and the X100F in Minneapolis (USA)

FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Claire Rosen / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – X-T20: Elke Vogelsang x Dogs / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – X-T20: Saraya Cortaville x Portrait/ FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Victoria Wright/ FUJIFILM

Image Credits:

Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.