In the wild, says his family


Photographer Peter Beard, world renowned for his beautiful and intimate images of Africa and African wildlife, was found dead at 82 after he disappeared from his home in Montauk, New York on April 1.

Peter Beard wearing a black shirt: Peter Beard's photograph of African animals and wildlife has been exhibited worldwide

© Bowers / Getty Images
Peter Beard’s photograph of African animals and wildlife has been exhibited worldwide

His family confirmed Sunday the death of Beard in a shared statement on social media. “We are all heartbroken by the confirmation of the death of our beloved Pierre. We would like to express our deep gratitude to the police at East Hampton and all those who helped them in their search, and also to thank the many friends of Peter and our family who sent messages of love and support during these dark days, “the statement said. .

“Peter was an extraordinary man who led an exceptional life. He fully lived his life; he squeezed every drop out of every day. He was relentless in his passion for nature, without make-up and without sentimental but still completely authentic. He was a fearless explorer, always generous, charismatic and perceptive, “the statement added.

“Peter has defined what it means to be open: open to new ideas, new people, new people, new ways of living and being. Always insatiably curious, he pursued his passions without constraints and perceived reality through a single lens. Anyone who has spent time in their business has been carried away by their enthusiasm and energy. He was a pioneering contemporary artist who was decades ahead of his time in his efforts to sound the alarm about environmental damage. His visual acuity and basic understanding of the natural environment were favored by his long stays in the bush and the “wilderness” he loved and defended. He died where he lived: in nature. We will miss him every day, ”concluded the statement.

In the hours after Beard’s disappearance, police feared that Beard would immediately need medical attention because of his battle with dementia – a brain disease that affects memory loss and judgment. Dozens of police and firefighters participated in the search, using dogs, drones and imaging equipment New york times reported.

At the time, Beard’s wife Nejma Beard did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment. The couple and daughter Zara shared their time between Montauk, New York and Kenya, according to the Beard website.

For more than half of his life, Beard has dedicated himself to documenting life in Africa, from its people to its animals, spurred on by the need to shine on the continent.

“The desert is gone,” said the artist, quoting Vanity Fair in 1996, “and with it much more than we can appreciate or predict. We will suffer. “

Beard – born in New York in January 1938 – fell in love with nature while traveling to Tuxedo Park with his grandmother, who gave him his first camera, a biography on his website reads. At 17, Beard traveled to Africa to work on a film documenting the rhinos with Quentin Keynes, Charles Darwin’s great-grandson.

a person wearing a suit: photograph by Bettmann / Getty Peter Beard of 20-year-old model Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, also known as Iman

© Supplied by people
Bettmann / Getty Peter Beard photograph of 20-year-old model Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, also known as Iman

Although he enrolled in Yale to study medicine, he quickly changed his concentration in art, a decision that will eventually bring him back to Africa.

Coming back to the continent would change life, and after receiving a special arrangement to live on a ranch and document the people and nature of Africa, he would publish The end of the game in 1965. Twelve years later, he would republish the book to include photographs documenting the death of thousands of elephants and rhinos from famine and stressing Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

Beard’s adventures on the continent also led him to a chance encounter with a young woman on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya. Beard asked and paid to take a picture of it, and the woman, Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid – better known today as Iman – was to become one of the most famous models in the world.

Beard opened his first exhibition in 1975 at the Blum Helman Gallery in New York, which was followed by a solo exhibition in 1977 at the International Center of Photography.

Peter Beard standing in front of a horse: Rose Hartman / Getty Images Peter Beard in 2000

© Supplied by people
Rose Hartman / Getty Images Peter Beard in 2000 “I think of them as an accumulation of petty and frivolous memories put on paper, pasted, photographed and worked,” Beard told the New York Times of his work in 1997.

His most recent exhibit was held at the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, New York in 2016, according to his website.

During his career, Beard befriended many celebrities of their day, including Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, Richard Lindner, Terry Southern and Truman Capote.

In the 1990s, Beard was famously trampled and pierced in the leg by an elephant while photographing a hearing at the Tanzanian border.

Associated slideshow: In Memoriam 2020: Remembering the stars we lost (via photo services)


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