Part of this undertaking in writing about photographers and artists is getting better acquainted with some of the household names in various professions, be it illustrations, photography, fashion or art. Horst P Horst is a name I had heard in the past, maybe even read something about at some point in time, but for the life of me – I could not recall any of his work or achievements. Time to wisen up.

Born on the 14th of August 1906 in Weißenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany, Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann was the youngest of 2 sons. He began his association with Vogue in 1931 and an exhibition held in Paris in 1932 was reviewed by Janet Flanner in the New Yorker, made him instantly famous.

Horst rented an apartment in New York in 1937, and while residing there met Coco Chanel, whom Horst called “the queen of the whole thing”.

Best known for his photographs of woman and fashion, during his lifetime Horst also photographed many celebrities, interior architecture and still lifes. One of the great iconic photos of the Twentieth-Century is “The Mainbocher Corset” (pictured below as one of my favorites) with its erotically charged mystery, captured by Horst in Vogue’s Paris studio in 1939. His images are sensual and elegant, revealing his interest in Surrealism and the ancient Greek ideal of physical beauty, especially in his portraits and nudes.

Also known for his excellent technical lighting, his method of work typically entailed careful preparation for the shoot, with the lighting and studio props arranged in advance. He frequently used four spotlights to pick out the subject, of which one pointed from the ceiling, rarely casting any shadows on the background. Most of his work is made in black and white, without use of filters. Developing, retouching, cropping and printing was usually left to others.

If you’d like to read more about Horst P Horst, visit the website.


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