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Sam Haskins, Photographer, Dies at 83

Sam Haskins, best known for his nude photography and “Cowboy Kate,” died last Thursday in his home in Bowral, Australia.

Sam Haskins

Sam Haskins, best known for his nude photography and “Cowboy Kate,” died last Thursday in his home in Bowral, Australia. He was 83.

This story first appeared in the December 4, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Haskins’ son Ludwig said his father had become depressed after suffering two strokes and took his own life.

Ludwig Haskins noted that, prior to falling ill, his father had enjoyed his last “rock star moment” in New York a few months ago, with the success of his “Fashion Etcetera” book launch and exhibition at Milk Gallery. The late photographer worked with Tommy Hilfiger earlier this year on a special edition of the book, a retrospective of five decades of Haskins’ work. It was his first joint publishing project with a fashion designer and first book in more than two decades.

“As a rule, similar projects seldom evolved into such a broad collaboration as this one with Tommy Hilfiger,” Haskins told WWD in June. “My many prior undertakings with paper mills, camera manufacturers and such usually did not amount to much more than producing a calendar and an exhibition. I had simultaneous offers for collaboration on this project. Since I have admired Tommy’s clothing for many years and his proposal was so overwhelmingly warm and human, there was no contest.”

Haskins said his son had persuaded him to take a retrospective look at his archive around the theme of fashion and style, and this became an important factor in the book’s content, which is a combination of digitally remastered black-and-white and color photographs from the early Sixties onward.

“Sam influenced generations of photographers, designers and artists; his art captured a genuine love for women and beauty,” Hilfiger said Thursday. “There will only ever be one Sam Haskins, and I am honored to have worked with him and to celebrate his last masterpiece, ‘Fashion Etcetera.’”

Haskins reveled in the collaboration with Hilfiger but his relationship with the fashion world wasn’t always a smooth one. Countless fashion photographers copied his work (a fact that irked Haskins until the end); however, in 2001, he was rediscovered by the genre and began shooting for magazines including French Vogue, Allure, New York, Harper’s Bazaar and Le Monde.

Just a week prior to his death, Haskins had worked to produce a series of limited edition prints that are now on sale at the Milk Gallery stand at the Art Basel fair.

Ludwig Haskins said a service has not yet been planned. Haskins is also survived by his wife, Alida, and another son, Konrad.