Horst P. Horst: Artist Portrait

Horst P. Horst

Born 1906. Died 1999.
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Horst P. Horst Biography

A modern colossus in the world of fashion, Horst P. Horst’s iconic images are dramatically lit, subtly suffused with sensuality, and meticulously composed with an eye for both classical and avant-garde notions of good form.

Horst Paul Albert Borhrmann was born in Weißenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany, on August 14, 1906. In his youth, he met Evan Weidemann, who piqued his interest in avant-garde art. In 1930, he left for Paris to study under Le Corbusier; that same year, he also met Vogue photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene, becoming his photographic assistant and lover. The following year, Horst published his first photograph in Vogue: a full page fragrance advertisement featuring a woman in a sumptuous velvet gown. Over the next several years, Horst photographed numerous prominent figures in both black and white and color, began a long and profitable association with Coco Chanel, and met British diplomat Valentine Lawford, who would become his life partner and co-parent of an adopted son, Richard. In 1939, he took his most famous photograph, Mainbocher Corset, which has inspired commercial photographers and haute-couture designers alike through today. Horst continued to work for Vogue for a total of 61 years, capturing such figures as Marlene Dietrich, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Andy Warhol; his final subject was a tiara-clad Princess Michael of Kent in 1991, the year of Valentine Lawford’s death. In 1996, Horst was named a Master of Photography by the International Center for Photography – one of only 15 individuals to ever receive that honor. He died at his home in Florida on November 18, 1999.

Horst’s work has been accessioned into the permanent collections of such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Notable auction offerings include a platinum-palladium print of Mainbocher Corset, which sold for $50,000 at Sotheby’s in 2011.

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Artist Image: Münchner Stadtmuseum, Herman Landshoff