Peter Beard (1938-2020) was an American photographer and writer best known for his collage work and extensive diaries. While moving around between Long Island, New York City, and Alabama during his childhood, Beard took on the habit of keeping diaries that later became source material for many of his collage works.
Photographer, writer, diarist, anthropologist, historian and socialite. A man of extremes, excesses, and possible contradictions, BearD led the kind of wild, rugged life fictionalized by writers such as Hemingway.
Beard documented his travels and photographs within his diaries from the age of twelve, shortly before his first trip to Kenya in August 1955. In 1957, Beard applied as a pre-med student to Yale before switching to art history, studying under the influential art historian and theoretician, Joseph Albers. After graduating, Beard returned to Kenya, where he made his home in East Africa, acquiring “Hog Ranch,” the property adjacent to author Karen Blixen’s, near the Ngong Hills.
In the early 1960s, he worked at Tsavo National Park, where he photographed and documented the demise of elephants and Black Rhinos, and published multiple books on the subject. During this period, he began to create photographic collages that explored the interconnectedness of humans and animals. In addition to his own work, Beard befriended and collaborated with many artists, including Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth, Richard Lindner, Terry Southern, Truman Capote, and Francis Bacon. In addition to his collaborations with well-known artists, he photographed prominent politicians, supermodels, rock stars, and New York City celebrities throughout the 1970s and 1980s. After his first exhibition in 1975, at the Blum Helman Gallery, Beard continued to show his work at galleries in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and cities throughout Africa.