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Legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh dies at 74


German fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh attends a press conference to promote his exhibition 'On Street' at C/O Berlin on Sept. 24, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Photographer Peter Lindbergh, who’s often credited with the rise of supermodels in the 1970s and ’80s and just completed a project with British royal Meghan Markle, is dead.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Peter Lindbergh on September 3rd 2019, at the age of 74,” his official Instagram account announced Wednesday. No cause of death was listed.

He was born in German-occupied Poland in 1944 and spent most of his youth in Germany. After studying fine arts in Berlin and abstract art in Krefeld, he worked as an assistant to photographer Hans Lux, before opening his own studio in 1973 in Düsseldorf.

He also joined the family of photographers at the renowned German magazine Stern, before moving to Paris in the late 1970s.

A visitor looks at a picture by German photographer Peter Lindbergh during the preparation of the 35th edition of the international contemporary art fair on Oct. 21, 2008 in Paris.
A visitor looks at a picture by German photographer Peter Lindbergh during the preparation of the 35th edition of the international contemporary art fair on Oct. 21, 2008 in Paris. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

Influenced by street photographers and photojournalists such as Dorothea Lange and Henri Cartier-Bresson, his stark, romantic style celebrated a humanistic take on fashion.

Amid the glossy, colorful and exaggerated pages of fashion excess in 1980s magazines, Lindbergh introduced a complete reversal of the era’s beauty standards. His minimalist black-and-white portraits of models with little makeup became symbolic of a new era in fashion photography.

“There is no beauty without truth. All this fake making up of a person into something that is not them cannot be beautiful. It is just ridiculous,” he said in November 2016.

His cinematic approach to beauty catapulted the careers of some of the world’s earliest supermodels, including Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, who best exemplified their newfound place in culture in 1990, during an interview with Vogue: “We have this saying, Christy and I.... we don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”

It was his January 1990 cover of British Vogue featuring Evangelista, Turlington, Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Tatjana Patitz in downtown Manhattan that arguably solidified the model-as-a-superstar phenomenon, which is still a prominent part of popular culture, nearly 30 years later.

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Peter Lindbergh was an amazing man. Back in the 80’s, when I was just starting out as a photographer, I began working with make-up artist Stephane Marais and hairdresser Julien d’Ys. They were usually Peter Lindbergh’s team, but had agreed to do a job with me. One day, Stephane called me to say Peter wanted to meet me and asked if I could come to his studio. I was surprised he asked for me, but of course I went. He said he noticed I started working for Italian Vogue, but thought I was not working with the right editor yet. He wanted to introduce me to the one he thought I should work with. And he did. People often think it is all about competition in our business, but he showed me how generous a photographer can be. He has always been wonderful to me from that day on. Caring, kind, and of course hugely talented. We shall miss him. - Peter Lindbergh fue un hombre increíble. En los años 80, cuando estaba empezando mi carrera como fotógrafo, empecé a trabajar con un maquillador, Stephane Marais y un peluquero Julien d’Ys. Ellos estaban en el equipo de Peter Lindbergh, pero accedieron a hacer un trabajo conmigo. Un día, Stephane me llamó para decirme que Peter quería conocerme y me preguntó si podía ir a su estudio. Me sorprendió que preguntase por mi, pero obviamente fui. Me dijo que se dio cuenta que estaba empezando a trabajar para Vogue Italia, pero que no creía que estuviese trabajando con el editor correcto todavía. Él quería presentarme al editor con el que él creía que yo tenía que trabajar. Y así lo hizo. La gente piensa que todo es competición en nuestro negocio, pero él me enseñó lo generoso que puede llegar a ser un fotógrafo. Él siempre fue maravilloso conmigo desde ese día. Atento, amable y sobretodo muy talentoso. Le echaremos de menos. - PETER LINDBERGH. 1944 - 2019. - #PeterLindbergh #StephaneMarais #JuliendYs @contactislandys @stephane_marais_officiali #MarioTestino

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Lindbergh’s most recent assignment ? 15 portraits for the September issue of Vogue, which included Jane Fonda, Selma Hayek and the climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg ? was guest-edited by Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.

Via a post on the Sussex Royal Instagram account, Markle honored his life and work, which is “revered globally for capturing the essence of a subject and promoting healthy ideals of beauty.”

That post also said “There is no other photographer she considered to bring this meaningful project to life.”

Some of the hottest names in the industry took to social media to pay tribute to the “genius and absolute master of his craft,” as actress Charlize Theron described him. “One of the best human beings I have ever met,” she added.