Had Mr. Beard not already existed, he might well have been the result of a collaborative brain wave by Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Paul Bowles, so said the New York Times in its obituary earlier this week.
In fact, Beard – who died in Montauk, New York at the age of 82 – has always been an essential part of his own artistic work. Of course, it’s the impressive photographs, collages and diaries (the latter sometimes written in his own blood) in which he documented and orchestrated the African wilderness for decades that we particularly remember.
But for Beard, the wilderness did not end on the edge of the savannah. No matter whether he was photographing the most beautiful women in the world for Vogue, partying the night away in Studio 54 or collaborating with contemporaries including Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol, his life in retrospect emanates an astonishing intensity that very few people would be able to replicate today.
The artistic complexity and exuberant creativity of Peter Beard can be found in this new 770-page tome, which comprises his key works in all their glory.