I find something compelling about the life and work of Peter Beard. He has had one of those lives that are the stuff of envy for me. A child of privilege who took opportunity to make a unique life-fashion photographer, social butterfly, adventurer, diarist, so many different journeys in a single life. He lives in New York and Kenya, was a friend of writer Isak Dinesen, was once married to Jackie Kennedy's sister, discovered Iman, friend of Warhol, photographer of the Stones--you know, that kind of life. He lived in a permanent tent on a ranch near Nairobi, decorated well, see for yourself,
I remember going to Fahey-Klein Gallery here in Los Angeles at the invitation of a friend, to view some portraits of musicians made by a photographer friend of hers, and stumbling into a small room filled with enlargements of Beard's photographic journals, and became enthralled with his stuff. It was principally his journals that drew me in, as someone who has kept journals for most of his adult life, I have always been fascinated by the various ways people record their mundanity, their adventure, their life. I moved away from 'dear diary' entries many years ago, substituting a daily collage as a reflective tool, so when I happened upon Beard's diaries with his liberal use of photos, stones, African ephemera and scrawlings written in his own, and or, animal blood I was in.
I went back to the gallery when they had a Beard exhibit, with the man himself doing some prep work--huge full-colour photos, augmented with artistic flourishes, the gallery smelled of blood and earth, it was revelatory for me in turns of making a simple diary project into a work of art.
In 2006 Taschen released a limited edition, two-volume set of Beard's works, nurtured and signed by the author, it was way beyond my price range, but beautiful to look at. Well this week my ship came in, a new version, a single, condensed version, obviously not a flash as the original, but magical nonetheless, came out for $69.99, so I bought one.