Movement: Animal Photography
Education: Yale University, New Haven
“Zebra Carpet, Lariak Estate, Laikysia, For the End of the Game Last Word from Paradise,” 1960
“Lioness at Mgarari,” 1963
“Loliondo Lion Charge,” 1964
“Rhino Roping with Ken Randhall in Darajani, Tsavo,” 1964
“Veruschka von Lehndorff and Gabo-Gabo Guyu roping in Darajani near Mtito Andri, Kenya,” 1964
“The Elusive Bongo,” 1966
“A Bend in the Tsavo River,” 1976
“Baboons, Impalas and Elephants Under Kilimanjaro,” 1984
Peter Beard is photographer, writer, and adventurer from America. He is best-known for his images of African wildlife. His photographs feature heavily in his many travel diaries and have been republished by several magazines and journals since the 1970s.
Peter Beard was born into a prominent family in New York in January of 1938, the son of Anson McCook Beard and Roseanne Hoar. Raised between Alabama and Rhode Island, Beard was exposed to painting, music, and literature at an early age as his grandfather, James Jerome Hill, was an avid patron of the arts whose progeny had all amassed great collections of their own. As an adolescent, he began keeping journals, using both photography and text to create detailed accounts of daily incidents and activities. He continued developing a sense of composition and photographic technique through his teenage years, particularly after a trip to Africa in 1955 provided an opportunity to test his skill.
Upon returning to the USA, he enrolled at Yale University to specialize in medicine but soon switched to art history mid-way through the year. His professors at the time were Vincent Scully, Josef Albers, and Richard Lindner.
As soon as Beard graduated university in 1960, he set off for Kenya, drawn to its abundance of natural beauty and wildlife. However, in stark comparison to what he had expected while working at the Tsavo National Park., he was able to document the deaths of over 35,000 elephants and other animals due to impinging civilization and the mismanagement of conservation. The chilling images of loss and death were compiled into his first book, “The End of the Game.” It was around this time that he bought a piece of land close to the Ngong Hills, christening it “Hog Ranch,” and established a permanent base in East Africa.
It is perhaps more accurate to call Beard a diarist than a photographer, as much of his time was devoted to the careful development of his journals. He produced volumes full of newspaper clippings, pictures, dried foliage, quotes, and telephone messages, creating a complete representation of himself and his time. He began painting towards the early 1970s, sometimes working with animal blood (as well as his own). In 1975, the Blum Helman Gallery in New York exhibited his work for the first time to great critical acclaim, the novelty of the African photographs a principal draw. Soon after, many international magazines featured his work, and his work was exhibited at the International Center of Photography, New York and the Centre National de la Photographie, Paris.
In 1982, Beard married supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, his first serious involvement with a woman since the dissolution of his marriage to socialite Minnie Cushing in 1962, although he had since had a series of high-profile affairs with international beauties. This union, however, was as short-lived as the first, and the couple divorced in 1986. Later that same year, the photographer married Najma Khanum with whom he has a daughter, Zara. Unfortunately, his dependence on drugs and the need for fame and celebrity led to a third divorce, a controversial breakup that included allegations of child molestation.
Beard’s reckless disregard for danger caught up with him when he was trampled by a charging cow elephant in September, 1996. The animal fractured his pelvis in multiple places and gored his thigh. Though doctors at Nairobi Hospital were able to staunch the internal bleeding, the damage was considerable. He recovered, though the convalescence period was extended.
Beard currently divides his time between Hog Ranch and his property in Montauk.
1938 - Born in New York
1950 - Takes his first photographs and begins using them in his diaries
1955 - Travels to Africa for the first time
1957 - Attends Yale University to study medicine but soon switches to art history
1966 - Collaborates with Alistair Graham on crocodile studies at Lake Rudolf
1975 - Exhibits his photographs for the first time at the Blum Helman Gallery
1977 - Mounts his first solo exhibition at the International Center of Photography
1996 - Gravely injured in an elephant attack
1979 - Photographers Gallery, London, England
1988 - Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis, Minnesota, USA
1993 - Seibu Museum, Tokyo, Japan
1995 - Light Factory Photographic Arts Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
2000 - Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
2003 - Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris, France
2004 - La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy
2008 - Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte, Mexico City, Mexico
2009 - Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
2010 - Somerset House, London, England
2010 - Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
BOOKS / PUBLICATIONS
“Perilous Escapades” by Peter Beard
“Peter Beard” by Peter Beard
“The Last Word from Paradise” by Peter Beard
“The End of the Game” by Peter Beard