I fell in love with Peter Beard’s photography when I saw his work in a client’s home. The images themselves are beautiful and striking, but each piece is surrounded by a fascinating collage of handwritten memories, found objects such as feathers, and colorful, dramatic swatches of ink. His work elicits excitement at the thought of being so close to these incredible animals.
Born in New York in 1938, Peter Beard traveled to Africa as a young man first in 1955 and again in 1960. He later returned to Kenya and worked in Tsavo National Park, photographing the demise of thousands of elephants and rhinos. Dismayed at the mass hunting of these animals for sport and the lack of conservation and regulation at the time, Beard published two The End of the Game books. He was ahead of his time in drawing attention to hunting for sport without limit or consequence. The End of the Game is a great collection of images and a book I love to put on coffee tables.
Peter Beard’s work appeals to me not only because it is real, but because the layered, collage effect of mixed mediums brings a textural experience to his art. His use of these mediums is clever and fascinating to me, making each image seem like a personal memory from his own journals. Although the photos are mainly from the 1960’s and 1970’s, his work is still prominent and quite impressive. You could curate a room room around this stunning photography.
Not all of Peter Beard’s photos focus on animals and people he encountered during his time in Africa. A rather privileged young man with a trust fund and host of interesting celebrities as friends (including Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa), he once turned his lens on the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy in Greece where, he says, he taught her how to properly use a camera. To see more examples of Peter Beard’s work and publications, or to learn more about his fascinating life, visit his website or find him on Facebook.