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.
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.
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.”
My heart is broken. Peter Lindbergh was a genius and an absolute master of his craft. Beyond that, what made him truly one of a kind was his consistent kindness, warmth, and incredible sense of humor. One of the best human beings I have ever met. I will never forget you my friend pic.twitter.com/YKmWKy13pu
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.