Peter Lindbergh: What I've learned
My childhood was in a city so ugly that it makes everything else seem pretty. I grew up in Duisburg, which might be the ugliest city in Germany, possibly the world. Everything is gray and totally industrial. I think my idea of beauty was a little bit tougher because of that. If I were from Venice it would have been different.
When I first saw my photographs on the walls of an exhibition I was scared, but in a good way. It was overwhelming to face who you are in this way. [Editor: After Lindbergh’s death, the publisher Taschen documented his first self-curated exhibition, Untold Stories, in a book of the same name].
I managed to fulfill many dreams, although I wish I had had more free time. I would have liked to have had a long, long time for me without my projects falling apart. For example, saying: “for one year I take care of absolutely nothing.” That was an unfulfilled dream.
I have never been interested in fashion, although my iconic cover for British Vogue with Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford was the birth of ‘top models’. This phenomenon corresponded to a time when fashion photography was completely inverted. It was not only because the models were beautiful – and they were – but they transmitted it.
My inspiration was not in the New York, Studio 54 or Andy Warhol with his really boring pictures, nor was it fashion magazines. I didn't want to be a photographer so I could sell clothes, but rather to define what women are today. I could say that my inspirational world was in Germany in 1920: the avant-garde painting of Max Beckmann, the visionary cinema of Fritz Lang, the provocative dance of Valeska Gert and that type of strong, feminine and androgynous woman.
Liberate women (and everyone) from the terror of youth and perfection. This should be the responsibility of photographers today. It is underneath all the artificiality where the real person is, the one that really interests me. You do not photograph architecture, which would be the framework of a person: you photograph what comes from inside the other person and reaches you.
For me, beauty resides in the courage to be who you are at all times; but we are bombarded with idiotic images of identical women that make people very unhappy for not being like them.
I get very irritated by stupidity and people who only think of themselves. The truth is, it made me nervous.
When people ask me: "Who is your hero?" I always answer Albert Einstein, without a doubt. When they ask about an icon, I tell them it is the lady who cleans my house! Einstein was an extraordinary person, and someone who tended to choose normal people as icons; I grow tired of the 'iconization' of celebrities, because in general, the most notable people tend to live the most modest daily lives. Although, I must admit, that Cate Blanchett is truly wonderful.