Peter Beard: A Wild Life
In the early 1960s, enchanted with his earlier visits to Africa, Peter Beard purchased 45 acres of land in Kenya, just outside of Nairobi and adjacent to Karen Blixen’s former plantation. The sprawling property became Hog Ranch, Beard’s personal oasis in his adopted home.
The Hog Ranch Art Department, a changing group of local artists with whom Beard would collaborate on his photographic collages, officially began in 1962 when Beard invited Blixen’s house manager, Kamante Gatura to live with him at the ranch. As we see in the present lot, the combination of Beard’s powerful black and white portraits- which isolate the figures against a barren background- paired with the colorful, fantastical drawings of his Hog Ranch collaborators, result in a visually stunning work that speaks to the rich and vibrant culture that lured Beard to Africa decades ago.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Overall 29 x 36 1/2 in. (73.7 x 92.7 cm)
Signature: Signed, titled and dated in ink on the recto.
Tachen, Peter Beard, pl. 211, variant, there dated 1968
The Time is Always Now, New York
Private Collection, Paris
Private Collection, New York
Known for his fashion photography and striking images of Africa, Peter Beard’s photographs of sub-Saharan fauna and New York City nightlife in the 1970s and ’80s represent a sustained engagement with a libidinal power. Beard’s interest in Africa can be traced to his trips to the continent in the 1950s and ’60s, which he viewed as escapes from the high society into which he was born. During the 1970s, Beard began working for fashion magazines and became a fixture at Studio 54. Although separated by an ocean, both bodies of work are concerned with a certain kind of brutality and virulence. Beard later turned to photo-collage to bridge these two oeuvres, adding elements such as news clippings and his own blood to further explicate the themes of violence.
American, b. 1938, New York, New York