Peter Hill Beard b. 22 January 1938 in New York is a photographer, artist, diarist and writer.
Peter Beard's photographs of fashion models, African animals, and the journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published since the 1970s. His grandfather Pierre Lorillard IV was a tobacco magnate and is credited with helping to popularize the tuxedo. Another grandfather, James Jerome Hill, was founder of the Great Northern Railroad in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. Railroads, in part, provided the infrastructure for colonization both in the United States and Africa, promoting expansion into undeveloped frontiers. J. J. Hill made his fortune in the railroad business, leaving as legacy both money and colonialism to his grandson Peter. While not rejecting money from this trust, Beard laments the expansion of Western capitalism into his Africa (choosing to ignore his own privileged existence there as part of this infiltration).
Due to this wealth, Beard has lived a jet-setting lifestyle and is famous not only for his photographs of endangered African elephants but also of supermodels and rock stars like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Iman, Veruschka (Countess Vera von Lehndorff, an important artist in her own right), and Beard's first wife [Minnie Cushing] (Iman and Minnie Cushing he claims to have "discovered"). He was also married to the model Cheryl Tiegs.
Beard's milieu consisted of Andy Warhol, the sister of Jackie Onassis Lee Radziwill, Truman Capote, and Bianca Jagger who all lived and rented houses in Montauk and Manhattan, NY in the 1970s and 1980s. Beard further had a close relationship with the late painter, Francis Bacon. He photographed Bacon and was also the model for several of Bacon's paintings. Beard was one of the hangers-on to the infamous Rolling Stones 1972 tour of America.
Beard is married to Najma Khamm. The couple has a daughter, Zara, who has been featured in Vogue magazine while shopping for a dress for a European debutante ball. His most recent book, Zara's Tales was written especially for her.
His nephew Alex Beard is a painter and illustrator based in New York City. His younger brother Samuel Beard is a well-known philanthropist now living in New Castle, Delaware.
Beard channels most of his creative energy into his collage-work diaries, which he began to compile in 1949 at the age of eleven. Peter Beard began keeping diaries as a child and after discovering a love of photography, used photographs to extend and enhance them. Beard read Karen Blixen's Out of Africa, which inspired him to travel to Africa in 1955 and again in 1960 where he ventured with his mother, who was very interested in safaris. He took many pictures of the wildlife there and began putting them into collages and use animal blood and remains along with clippings to create his work.
In these works, he documents the history of his relationships with (among other things); Africa, Karen Blixen, the New York art scene, the fashion world, Hollywood, and the Kennedy administration. Page after page is covered with photographs of women, transcribed telephone messages, marginalia in India ink, clippings from the daily newspapers, dried leaves and insects, old sepia-toned photographs, drawings of animals and people by Kikuyu artists, quotes by Joseph Conrad, found objects, images of decaying elephant carcasses, and sometimes, Beard’s own blood.
Beard attended Yale University where he enrolled as a pre-medical student but quickly changed his major to art history. His first exhibition was at the Blum Helman Gallery in 1975. Later, after becoming close friends with Blixen (whom he met in Denmark ), he purchased a 43-acre farm in Africa. This piece of land was adjacent to her Karen farm in Kenya at the foot of the Ngong Hills — a property which he named "Hog Ranch". Blixen left him her archive of photographs, as well as some of her personal writings. Beard uses these in his collage diaries.
Biographical information from Wikipedia
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