MILAN — “We all know his fashion photos, but there’s so much more, beyond the stereotypes,” said Giorgio Armani at the unveiling of the exhibition of Peter Lindbergh’s work, called “Heimat. A Sense of Belonging.”
Running Feb. 22 to Aug. 2 at the Armani Silos, the exhibit displays the more emblematic images that have contributed to the photographer’s fame as well as the lesser-known, yet equally striking and evocative, photos.
“There is a whole world in the eyes of a photographer, in the ability to understand and bring together experiences and people that can change the way we look at things,” said Armani. “Women’s faces, for example. Their bodies and gestures. Peter Lindbergh’s cinematic photographs have a unique way of blending sophistication with unexpected spontaneity that makes them unforgettable. His eye was able to capture a vital and secret intensity, allowing a glimpse into a world of sensitivity and emotion.”
Reminiscing about Lindbergh, he said “when he photographed, he was really happy when whoever was on the other side of the lens had understood what he wanted.”
With the exhibit, Armani paid tribute to Lindbergh, who died last September and who had forged a strong working relationship with the designer, photographing several of his advertising campaigns. Armani described Lindbergh as “a wonderful professional companion whose love for beauty represents an indelible contribution to our culture, not just to fashion.”
Lindbergh’s son Benjamin, who worked on the exhibition with Armani, said the two men “were also friends, they’ve known each other for over 30 years. Mr. Armani wanted to pay homage to Peter after his passing so he reached out and asked if he could show images of his friend in this exhibition space and of course we agreed, absolutely.”
Asked why he believed the relationship between them was so fruitful, Lindbergh said they “were both very faithful to their vision and they didn’t make any compromises and I think that’s one of the common points that they share together.”
Lindbergh commented on how the strong images stand out in the austere venue and said “the place and the frames and the images and everything match so well. There’s this kind of industrial feel, so it’s amazing.”
The exhibition is divided into three main themes, beginning with “The Naked Truth,” followed by “Heimat,” which in German means “home” or “homeland,” positioned in the main room, and ends with “The Modern Heroine.” It shows both published and unpublished works.
The photographer made no distinction between his commissioned and non-commissioned work, nor between photography and fashion photography, believing that any interesting photo could potentially be seen in museums or galleries, whatever its original context. “When Peter used to shoot for magazines, he always also used to do some snaps here and there that he would use for a book, for an exhibition, so he always worked knowing that. He loved to take some pictures for other projects,” said his son.
In “The Naked Truth,” the photos have a raw quality, revealing what Lindbergh called “the emotional space between the model and the camera.” There’s a purity and sincerity to the images, as the photographer sees the beauty in what could be considered imperfections, such as a visible scar on Nadja Auermann’s body. The model is also shown without makeup, her face peppered by freckles and her hair undone.
Lindbergh was born in Leszno, Poland, and spent his childhood in Duisburg, in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, and the “Heimat” section displays photos of industrial, chipped concrete buildings and factories, the industrial background of Duisburg, gloomy skies and stark views of Berlin. “Peter, growing up, when he saw the magazines and pictures in the magazines and in the papers, everything was in black and white back in the day, so for him the vision of reality is in black and white because that’s how we saw the world in the papers when he was a kid. For him, black and white is the truth and color is more fictitious,” said Lindbergh of his father’s images.
“The Modern Heroine” refers to Lindbergh’s aim to create an empowered woman, focusing on the individual.
Personally curated by Giorgio Armani with the Peter Lindbergh Foundation, the exhibit might be itinerant. “We’re talking with Mr. Armani’s team about this exhibition traveling, so it might be an option,” said Benjamin Lindbergh.
Lindbergh’s work is featured in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and MoMA’s PS1 in New York. He has had solo exhibitions at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Bunkamura Museum of Art in Tokyo, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Kunsthalle München at the Reggia di Venaria in Turin and at Düsseldorf’s Kunstpalast.