HORST P. HORST 

From Weißenfels to the capitals of the fashion world: The German-born photographer Horst P. Hort (*1906) is one of the most enigmatic figures of the 20th century - an aesthetic icon and photography luminary. Best known for his timeless photographs of beautifully clothed and staged models, Horst's career spanned over five decades and his artistic legacy continues today. Not only is he an inexhaustible source of inspiration, but also an interesting subject to study, having shaped the zeitgeist together with other important figures such as Cy Twombly, Greta Garbo, Schiaparelli, Chanel and Truman Capote - many of whom he portrayed within the beautiful interiors of their private houses. 

Gericke+Paffrath is proud to be the first gallery to represent Horst P. Horst in Germany, showcasing some of his most fascinating works - ranging from fashion photography over society portraits to interiors. 

Victoria & Albert Museum Susanna Brown
Horst P. Horst - Retrospektive

 

 

HORST P. HORST: A TIMELESS ALLURE
Text by Susanna Brown (curator of photographs, V&A Museum, London)

The name Horst is synonymous with timeless elegance and sensual sophistication. He ranks alongside Irving Penn and Richard Avedon as one of the preeminent photographers of the 20th century and today it is hard to overstate Horst’s influence; every subsequent generation of photographers has looked to him for inspiration. A leading artist at Vogue magazine for six decades, Horst was an international figure who traveled from Paris to New York and beyond, to chronicle the interwoven worlds of art, design, performance and glamorous high society. The photographs exhibited here are testament to Horst’s virtuoso talent, his mastery of light, form and space. These pictures reveal the extraordinary breadth of his career, encompassing elegant nudes, fashion, celebrity portraits, and still life studies.

Horst was born in Weißenfels, a small German town positioned below the white cliffs of the River Saale and watched over by a mighty Baroque castle. He soon tired of his provincial existence, craving freedom and a more creative life. He left to study carpentry at Hamburg’s school of applied arts before embarking on an apprenticeship with the renowned modernist architect Le Corbusier in Paris. Soon after arriving in Paris in 1930, a chance encounter with the photographer George Hoyningen-Huene would spark Horst’s interest in photography and alter the course of his career. Huene taught Horst all he could about working with the cumbersome camera and hot lights in the studio of Vogue and, in a few short years, Horst had superseded Huene as the magazine’s star photographer. His images from this period display his varied sources of visual inspiration – ancient Greek and Roman forms, modern design and surrealist art.

He had a natural rapport with the models and helped to launch the careers of the great beauties of the pre-war era. His most alluring collaborators included Lisa Fonssagrives (who later married Irving Penn), Lyla Zelensky and Helen Bennett. They are always meticulously posed in his photographs, resembling classical sculptures carved in marble, or dancers frozen in time. In 1939, Horst was forced to leave his home in Paris for the safety of New York, he began a new life there and embraced recently developed techniques in colour photography. His spectacular, vibrant studies of contemporary American fashions display his confidence in colour.

The house and garden Horst created in the late 1940s on the Tiffany estate in Oyster Bay, Long Island, reflected his unique sense of elegance, fusing the style of a white Tunisian villa with Bauhaus design. He enjoyed entertaining at home and notable visitors included Salvador Dalí, Greta Garbo, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. In the 1960s, Horst was welcomed as a friend into the private residences of icons from Andy Warhol to Baron de Rothschild and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. He would often stay as a guest for several days to photograph these spectacular environments and their famous inhabitants in his inimitable manner. His pictures were reproduced in House & Garden magazine, accompanied by colourful prose by his partner Valentine (Nicholas) Lawford.

Advancing age did not diminish Horst’s enthusiasm for photography. On the contrary, as he grew older he experienced a renaissance in his career. In 1978, Vogue appointed him to document the Paris collections in his dramatic spot-lit style. The 1980s witnessed a wave of new books and exhibitions exploring his broad oeuvre. Horst also began producing exquisite prints in platinum-palladium, a process employing precious metal more expensive than gold. The resulting images are rich with nuanced shades of grey and black and a delicate surface quality. Later in life, Horst was showered with accolades including the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and the Master of Photography award by the International Center of Photography.

In the modern age, surrounded by images of brutality and photographs hastily snatched, we crave Horst’s flawless vision of beauty more than ever. His pictures evoke a bygone age of elegance and serenity, an atmosphere of luxury and fantasy. It might all be an illusion, created within the confines of his photographic studio, but what a wonderful illusion it is.

Suit and Headdress by Schiaparelli, 1947
80 x 105cm/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Muriel Maxwell, Ensemble by Sally Victor, Bag by Paul Lato, Sunglasses by Lugene, 1939
103 x 135 cm/ 127 x 161cm
© Horst Estate

Lisa Fonssagrives, Dress by Pierre Balmain, Background by Marcel Vertes, 1935
80 x 105cm/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley, Dress by Traina-Norell, 1946
127 x 167cm/ 151 x 193cm
© Horst Estate

American Vogue Cover, 15 May 1941
127 x 161cm
© Horst Estate

Ilka Chase, Conductor of CBS Radio Program
"Penthouse Party", Published October 1941
80 x 105/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Diana Vreeland, New York 1979
(D. Vreeland Apartment "Garden in Hell" by Billy Baldwin)
60 x 60/ 75 x 75cm
© Horst Estate

Cy Twombly in Rome, 1966
151 x 151cm
© Horst Estate

Susann Shaw, 1943
151 x 193cm/ 151 x 193cm
© Horst Estate

Dress by Hattie Carnegie, 1939
80 x 105cm/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Jean Patchett, Bathing Suit by Brigance, 1951
80 x 105cm/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Loretta Young, New York, 1941
80 x 105cm/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Helen Bennett, Muriel Maxwell, and Bettine Bolegard -Vogue, 1 November 1939
103 x 135/ 127 x 161cm
© Horst Estate

Lisa Fonssagrives
80 x 105/ 100 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Yves Saint Laurent, Normandie, 1983
151 x 151 cm
© Horst Estate

Cy Twombly in Rome, 1966
60 x 60/ 75 x 75cm
© Horst Estate

Around That Time - Pauline De Rothschild, 1969
127 x 127cm
© Horst Estate

Mainbocher Corset, 1939
70 x 91/ 90x 114cm
© Horst Estate

Round the Clock (Variant), 1987
70 x 87,5/ 90x 110,5cm
© Horst Estate

Chanel Beauty Contact Sheet, 1987
160 x 202,5cm
© Horst Estate

Coco Chanel, 1937
70 x 72,8/ 90 x 95,8cm
© Horst Estate

Lisa with Harp, 1940
70 x 97,3/ 90x 120,3cm
© Horst Estate

Dali Costumes, 1939
70 x 98,7/ 90x 121,7cm
© Horst Estate

Chanel Beauty, 1987
70 x 70/ 90 x 93cm
© Horst Estate

Coco Chanel, 1937
70 x 88,2/ 90 x 111,2cm
© Horst Estate

BIOGRAPHY

Born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann in Weissenfels-an-der-Salle on August 14, 1906, Horst P. Horst studied architecture in Hamburg, before apprenticing in Le Corbusier's studio in Paris in 1930. By a twist of fate, he started working as a fashion photographer for Vogue under George Hoyningen-Huene. In 1935, Horst took over Huene's job as chief photographer for French Vogue. At the outbreak of WWII, he immigrated to the United States, where he worked as a photographer for American Vogue until the early 1980s. Other renowned magazines like Vanity Fair and House & Garden also relied on Horst's photography and he published several books of his photographs, including Photographs of a Decade (1945), Patterns from Nature (1946) and Salute to the Thirties, with George Hoyningen-Huene (1971).


COMPLETE TIMELINE
SOURCE: V&A
 

1906 
Born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann on 14 August, in Weissenfels, Germany, the youngest son of a hardware business owner.
 

Late 1920s 
Enrolls at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Hamburg. Under the tuition of Walter Gropius, studies design and carpentry.
 

1930 
Arrives in Paris to work as an apprentice to architect, Le Corbusier. Meets the Baltic Baron George Hoyningen-Huene, star photographer at French Vogue. Huene becomes Horst’s mentor and partner, teaching him about photography and inviting him into the creative world of 1930s Paris.
 

1931 
Meets Dr Mehemed Agha, Art Director of American Vogue who encourages him to work as a fashion photographer at French Vogue.
 

1932 
Receives a personal invitation from the publisher Condé Nast to spend six months in New York, taking photographs for the American edition of Vogue. Horst’s first portrait of a Hollywood actress, Bette Davis, appears in Vogue’s sister magazine Vanity Fair.
 

1934 
Meets Coco Chanel at a costume ball. Travels to England to work for British Vogue.
 

1935 
Becomes principal photographer at French Vogue following Huene’s abrupt departure to work for rival magazine Harper’s Bazaar.
 

1930s 
Colour photography transforms the pages of magazines and Horst is quick to adapt to the new medium.
 

1935 
The first of Vogue covers by Horst is published, depicting Princess Sherbatow in a red velveteen jacket.
 

1939 
In September, photographs the last pre-war Paris collections. Among his final Paris photographs is his most famous: the Mainbocher Corset. With the outbreak of the Second World War imminent, Horst and many of his friends flee Paris for New York.
 

1943 
Enlists into the American Army and becomes a U.S. citizen, changing his name to Horst P. Horst.

 

1946 
In a departure from photographing fashion and stars, creates a series of close-up, black and white photographs of plants, shells and minerals, published as Patterns from Nature.
 

1947 
Meets British diplomat Valentine Lawford, who becomes his partner. Designs a house and garden in Oyster Bay, Long Island, which becomes his residence for the next half-century.
 

1949 
Travels to the Middle East with Lawford and photographs the ruins of Persepolis.
 

1950 
Travels to Syria and Iran with Lawford and photographs the annual migration of the
Qashqa’i clan.
 

1952 
Photographs male nudes for exhibition in Paris.
 

1962 
Diana Vreeland joins American Vogue and Horst’s career is reinvigorated when Vreeland commissions Horst and Lawford to undertake a series of features on spectacular homes and gardens.
 

1966 
Photographs his own home for the American Vogue  article The House That Horst Grew.
 

1968 
Death of George Hoyningen-Huene; Horst inherits his archive.
 

1975 
Featured as part of a group exhibition Fashion 1900-1939 at the Victoria and Albert
Museum, London.
 

1978 
Horst’s early style experiences a renaissance and he begins working regularly for French Vogue again.
 

1980s 
Begins producing new prints for museums and the collector’s market, selecting emblematic works from every decade of his career to be reprinted in platinum-palladium.
 

1982 
Exhibits at Staley Wise Gallery, New York, for the first time
 

1984 
Publication of the definitive biography Horst: His Work and His World written by Valentine Lawford. Diana Vreeland writes a tribute to Horst for American Vogue.
 

1986 
Hamiltons Gallery in London presents the first major British exhibition of his work, to coincide with the photographer’s 80th birthday.
 

1990 
Madonna takes inspiration from several of his motifs and the Mainbocher Corset image in the music video for her song "Vogue".
 

1991
Takes fashion photograph for British Vogue’s 75th anniversary issue. Valentine Lawford dies.
 

1992 
Stops taking photographs due to his failing eyesight.
 

1996 
Receives the ‘Master of Photography’ award from the International Centre of Photography, New York.
 

1999 
Dies in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 93.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2016
Horst P. Horst: Color, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, USA 

2014-2015
Horst: Photographer of Style, V&A Museum, London, England (Travelling exhibition: McCord Museum, Quebec, Canada, 2015; The Netherlands Photo Museum, Rotterdam, 2016, NRW Forum, Düsseldorf, 2016)

Horst P. Horst - Fashion in Color, Bernheimer, Munich, Germany 

Vintage Horst, Hamiltons Gallery, London, England 
 

1999
Horst.P.Horst, Hamiltons Gallery, London, England

1984
Untitled, New York-Staley Wise Gallery, New York, USA 
 

1982
Untitled, New York -Staley Wise Gallery, New York, USA

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 

2015
Adventures in Photography: Gifts from Harvey S. Shipley Miller, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
 

2014
Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
The Chanel Legend, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany
 

2013
Vanity Fashion Photography from the F.C. Gundlach Collection, National Museum in Krakow, Krakow, Poland
 

2012
Icons of Fashion and Beauty, Bernheimer Fine Art Photography, Munich, Germany 

Poetic Renaissance, Galerie ClairefontaineGroup, Luxembourg, Belgium 

Beyond Words: Photography in The New Yorker, UCCA - Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China 

The Nude Interpreted, Staley-Wise Gallery, New York City, USA 

Various Artists, From Collectors' Archives - Fahey/Klein GalleryGroup, Los Angeles, USA 
 

2011
Vanity, Kunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), Vienna, Austria

The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture 1839 to Today - Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland 

Great Moments in Glamour, Museum Ludwig,  Cologne, Germany
 

2010
Red Dior, Kunstverein Talstrasse e.V., Halle, Germany 

201025 years/25 Works, Wessel + O'Connor Fine Art, New York City, USA

2009
I love Art 10 - The Fallen Angels, Watari-Um - Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Toyko, Japan

2008
Fotógrafos da Vida ModernaSão Paulo  - Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Dalla Presitoria al Futuro. Capolavori dalla collezione Bischofsberger, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, Italy 

2005
The World Of H.p. Horst, Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia
Horst P. Horst - The selected works, Aidan Gallery, Moscow, Russia 
 

2001
Untitled, National Portrait Gallery, London, England 
 

1985
Das Aktfoto, Fotomuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum, München, Germany
 

1982
Lichtbildnisse: Das Portrait in der Fotografie, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany 
 

1982
Color As Form, International Museum of Photography, Rochester, New York, USA
 

1980
La Mode, Galerie Zabriskie, Paris, France 
 

1980
Allure, International Center of Photograph, New York, USA
 

1979
Fleeting Gestures: Dance Photography, International Center of Photography, New York, USA  (traveled to The Photographers Gallery, London and Venezia '79) 
The Fashionable World, Stephen White Gallery, Los Angeles, USA 

Gericke + Paffrath Gallery

Bilker Strasse 3

40213 Düsseldorf

contact@gerickepaffrath.de

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