Peter Beard in Francis Bacon's Mirror

HALF BYRON / HALF TARZAN

– Bob  Colacello on Beard in “Holy Terror”

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{b, 1938}

Who wouldn’t want to be Peter Beard ?

The “wayward wasp” from New York City was born to wealth, coming from an aristocratic family (his great grandfather founded the Great Northern Railway in 1857; his grandfather, Pierre Lorillard III, a tobacco heir) – he could have had any life he could dream of.

So, after graduating from Yale with a degree in art history (mentored by art greats Josef Albers, Vincent Scully, and Richard Lindner), and a membership with the Scroll & Key (secret society bro), he chose to escape the jungles of the western world for the true wild of Africa.

Peter-Beard-

I like to hang on to things and see the sea changes, the wear and tear, the spills, rain, and fire- how time works on everything.

-Peter Beard

There he would kick off his fantastic art career with a book entitled “The End of the Game” which documented the degradation of African wildlife brought on by yours truly – mankind. Taken in Tsavo National Park in Kenya, unsettling photos of carcasses and bones and rotting corpses in stunning and timeless sepia tinted black and white photos with mixed media and collage would put a stamp on Peter Beard’s exotic, original, and in-your-face style of photography.

It’s no easy feet trenching through crocodile infested waters, or watching as a colleague is torn in half by a charging rhinoceros, but it didn’t stop him from calling Kenya home.

He would set up home and shop in a rural sanctuary known as Hog Ranch, where he entertained a multitude of the world’s most interesting and fabulous friends, and take some of fashion’s most stunning images. He did it all in the most elegant and cool of ways.

Set against raving African landscapes, Beard brings new life to an industry built on a fantasy of luxury and excess, and strips it down (as well as his models) to the subtle supple curves of a woman, for whom he has had many. . . flecks of paint, and wicked swirls collaborate upon the images to create a magic that is evocative of his timeless and raw sense of style and unique perspective on life.

A rockstar in ever right, find him alongside Mick Jagger on tour, yachting with Aristotle and Jackie Onasis (clocking 4:20 in a $2,000 bet he couldn’t stay underwater for 4 minutes), entertaining royals, taking a nap with Francis Bacon in Andy Warhol’s bed,  or partying with Halston at Studio 54, running from bulls in Madrid,  or forcing Janice Dickinson to pose with a cheetah.

Lets put it simply: Peter Beard is a bad ass. He combines classic American ivy league style with a worldly spirit, nostalgia for the golden days of British Colonialism, all jet set to the max – keeping it clean, cool, masculine, and chic, and never being afraid to rip a shirt or get a stain. The truth is, he probably never thinks twice about any of that shit . . .  prolific playboys never give a shit.

EOF STYLE IDOL- Peter Beard- bad Ass

“I’m not a planner; I’ve never made a decision about anything in my life. The good thing about Africa is that you can escape forever. You can do what you want, without someone looking over your shoulder.”

-Peter Beard

You can still find Mr. Beard at Hog Ranch today feeding giraffes, and occasionally entertaining a photo shoot (back in 2009 he shot an iconic set of photographs for the Pirelli Calendar – click here to watch an incredible ‘Making Of’ video of his work on this piece).

His legendary journals and collage work have been soaring in prices at auctions as of late (his 1968 piece Orphan Cheetah Triptych took in $662,500 at Christie’s in 2012), so it would seem that sometimes doing the complete opposite of people’s expectations can truly pay off.

It’s all in the attitude, or should we say spirit. This is one we should all definitely try to invoke.

So, don’t get stuck in the status-quo. And never let anyone tell you that art isn’t worth it.

Peter Beard by Christopher Wahl

“I’m the most irresponsible person you ever met”

– Peter Beard

It changes people, and it changes the world.

Until we meet again,

{theEye}

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{ FURTHER READING: VANITY FAIR, NOVEMBER 1996 – “AFRICAN DREAMER” by Leslie Bennetts }

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