September 27, 2010 / 2:42 PM / 8 years ago

Berlin photo show celebrates Lindbergh naturalism

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Peter Lindbergh is one of the world’s best known fashion photographers yet glamour and fashion are secondary to people and places in the largest exhibition of his work, now open in Berlin.

Lindbergh helped forge the supermodel phenomenon in the 1980s with photos of models such as Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell but says he did not set out to be a fashion photographer.

His exhibition “On Street” at photography forum C/O Berlin, on until January 9, conveys the stretch and unconventional naturalism of his work.

Gritty photographs of the Berlin underworld vie with startlingly candid portraits of celebrities and street scenes of models wandering through Manhattan.

“I am fundamentally interested in how captivating people are and I don’t care if they are thin or fat,” said Lindbergh, who started his career as an apprentice window dresser. “Beauty is not about form but more about ... the aura someone has.”

The exhibition shows 120 photographs and films from the past three decades, including classic Lindbergh images as well as never-before published polaroids.

“This show poses the question: where does fashion photography start and where does it end?” said curator Felix Hoffmann. “You always wonder whether these are commissioned works, snapshots of friends or simply documentation.”

Lindbergh’s fashion photos show models in gritty urban settings rather than in theatrical and artificial poses against a glossy backdrop.

The 65-year old told reporters at a conference in Berlin he preferred taking photographs in black and white rather than in color as it seemed “more realistic.”

He said he was uninspired by today’s extremely young and skinny models who were “fabricated for fashion shows” and trained to walk the catwalk like robots.

Instead his favorite photograph in the exhibit was an intimate yet powerful portrait of wrinkly 82-year old French actress Jeanne Moreau, her chin jutting out toward the viewer.

The tendency in digital photography to blow up photos during editing and to retouch every single flaw was “tragic,” he said.

The ground floor of the exhibition is dedicated to photographs of Berlin — from sobering pictures of the Berlin Wall to provocative portraits of a topless cabaret artist smoking while striking athletic poses — in homage to the city which Lindbergh credits with his artistic education.

“I have a very nebulous image of Berlin which stems from my time living here for a year when I was 19. The wall was still there and there was an incredible atmosphere,” he said.

“It was the first big city I ever lived in, so Berlin was where I first got to really know art.”

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