Horst P. Horst

Horst P. Horst (1906-1999)

Born in Germany, Horst’s contribution to the history of 20th century fashion and portrait photography is vast and deep. As a young man, Horst went to Paris to apprentice with Le Corbusier. A chance meeting with photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene introduced him to the medium of photography and to artistic and social personalities of Paris and New York. In 1931, a Horst photograph was published for the first time in Vogue, beginning a legendary career that continued for sixty years.

A master of light and shadow, Horst's photographs embody the Greek ideal of beauty: symmetry, perfection, and purity. Horst’s influence in the world of both fine art and pop culture cannot be overstated. His images inspired his contemporaries such as Hoyningen Huene and Irving Penn as well as later artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Joel Peter Witkin. Horst’s influence can also be felt in the editorial worlds of fashion and portrait photography. Bruce Weber, a legendary Condé Nast contributor to Vanity Fair and Vogue, among others, is one of many contemporary photographers influenced by Horst. Weber artfully described his feelings about Horst's work in a 1992 television
documentary: “The elegance of his photographs ... took you to another place, very beautifully ... the untouchable quality of the people is really interesting as it gives you something of a distance ... it's like seeing somebody from another world ... and you wonder who that person is...”

And of course, Madonna, the ultimate figure of pop culture as well as a passionate and highly regarded collector of photography, appropriated Horst’s image, Mainbocher Corset, 1939, for her 1990 music video, Vogue. 

In addition to the blockbuster retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2014, Horst has had major exhibitions at the Louvre, Paris, The National Portrait Gallery, London, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, International Center of Photography, New York, and The Museum Ludwig, Cologne. In 1989, Horst received the Lifetime Achievement Award of The Council of Fashion Designers of America