PARIS — Frank Horvat, who worked as a fashion photographer and photojournalist, and kicked off his career shooting the first Givenchy fashion show in the Fifties, has died at age 92.
His death was confirmed by his daughter, Fiammetta Horvat.
Born on April 28, 1928, in Abbazia, Italy — which is now called Opatija and is part of Croatia — Horvat acquired his first camera as a teenager, trading in a stamp collection for a 35mm Retinamat.
After studying fine art at the Brera Academy in Milan, he made his first trip to Paris in 1950, where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. Five years later, he moved to the French capital, and spent the late Fifties and early Sixties shuttling between Paris, New York and London. He was a Magnum photographer and worked for Life and Paris Match, and also shot fashion photos for Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. He spent time in Asia, and was sent around the world for the German magazine Revue. When magazines began to disappear in the Seventies, he embarked on freelance projects and set about interviewing photographers himself.
“In almost 70 years of photography, I had the time to photograph many different subjects, with at least a dozen different techniques. But that’s almost beside the point. The point is that I had the time to play many different games,” he wrote on his web site.
The photographer sought to capture what was happening beyond the frame of an image.
“It’s not what a photographer shows me that interests me,” Horvat told WWD in 2016, “but what kind of person this photographer is.”
One of his first assignments was to shoot the first Givenchy fashion show; he published a book in 2016 that featured a model in a Givenchy look on the cover.
“I started with Givenchy, so to speak,” Horvat said. His reportage-style fashion shoots of top models and designers often included lively street life and have become classics.
Horvat remained active throughout his life, embracing digital technology and becoming a fan of Photoshop — it helped him compensate for the loss of sight in one eye and later, a heart attack that he said had slowed him down.
Horvat also set up an iPad app called Horvatland, and a Facebook page that he curated daily, uploading pairs of photos for his followers to interpret freely. “It’s great fun because it always means something else when they’re combined,” he said.
His web site spans his career, featuring photos of a beggar in India in 1953, French strippers at the Sphinx club in 1956, subway commuters in New York City in the Eighties and intimate shots of life at his country house for a project he called La Véronique in 2003.
“The only thing that truly interests me in a photo is the miracle,” said Horvat. “That something happened at that moment that can never happen again. And I’m astonished by those miracles.”