Germany′s Creative Spirits - Peter Lindbergh | DocFilm | DW | 29.02.2016
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Germany's Creative Spirits - Peter Lindbergh

A German photographer with international acclaim, Peter Lindbergh’s trademark shots of supermodels have certainly made their mark on the international fashion world. But who’s the man behind the art?

Lindbergh’s journey began over 40 years ago with a cheap second-hand camera. He started out as a window dresser in Karstadt, a German department store. His love for taking portraits came about while photographing his brother’s children. Lindbergh was born Peter Brobeck in 1944 in present-day Poland but soon fled to Duisburg in the Ruhr region, where he grew up in a home near the river Rhine with a view of Krupp steelworks. Twen magazine first published his shots in the late 1970s, followed by Stern magazine. Interest suddenly sparked from other international big-name publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, who were captivated by his natural talent.

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Peter Lindbergh at a fashion shoot in Paris. (© Till Vielrose)

Black and White

Peter Lindbergh always photographs in black and white, which he says is inspired by early German cinema and the 1920s expressionist dance movement. He portrays his subjects in an open, exposed manner, always striving to capture their natural beauty. “I want to photograph real people, not just models”, says Lindbergh. “I’m interested in the reality behind the façade.” His friend Wim Wenders describes his photography as “the empire of a man who has taken fashion photography, – or better still, photography in general – left it behind him and transcended it.” And Lindbergh is still discovering new forms of expression today. He recently let a child murderer who was sentenced to death stare into a film camera for 38 minutes. He wanted to know how the evil in him would affect the viewer. He came to the conclusion: “It brings out evil in some people and not others, it just depends.”

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Peter Lindbergh on the set of "Deutschland, deine Künstler" with screenplay writer Gero von Boehm. (© Till Vielrose)

A New Home in Paris

The film takes you on a world tour of Peter Lindbergh’s fast-paced life in a cut-throat industry, from photo shoots in London and New York to the glitz and glam of fashion and advertizing. We see first hand the hours of scrutiny he takes over thousands of shots to achieve perfection. Director Gero von Boehm accompanies Lindbergh to his house in Paris, where he’s lived for decades, and then to his home city of Duisburg in the countryside. The film also features film director and photographer Wim Wenders, photographer Jim Rakete, super model Lara Stone and publisher Lothar Schirmer.

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