Fashion Photographer Peter Lindbergh Says Selfies and Photoshop Are for Losers

The fashion legend explains why he thinks his industry has 'gone to the dogs' ahead of a major show of his work.

White Shirts: Estelle Léfebure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz & Christy Turlington, Malibu, (1988) © Peter Lindbergh. Courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris / Gagosian Gallery.

Fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh—known for his dramatic black-and-white images, like the iconic gaggle of supermodels in white button-down shirts play-fighting at the beach—has some choice words against two of the industry’s most controversial trends: the rise of the selfie, and the use of Photoshop.

Speaking to the German press on Tuesday ahead of a survey exhibition of his work at Kunsthalle Munich, titled “From Fashion to Reality,” he said, “I think that selfies are actually pretty much the stupidest thing that there is at all.”

He also thinks that people who take selfies with celebrities view themselves as “smaller” than the star.

Yet elsewhere in the art world, some have learned to embrace the selfie and explore its artistic potential. Like the Saatchi Gallery, which just opened the exhibition “From Selfie to Self-Expression.”

Lindbergh, whose 1988 photograph of model Michaela Bercu wearing a couture Christian Lacroix jacket with jeans graced Anna Wintour’s first cover of American Vogue, and who collaborated with Jenny Holzer for Vogue Italia in 2012, doesn’t just have beef with friends of the front-facing camera. The veteran figure in the world of fashion pictures also said that his field has “gone to the dogs” in the way it makes women look in magazines, with the use of image editing programs like Photoshop.

Peter Lindbergh Munich

Milla Jovovich, Paris, 2012. Vogue Italia. Chanel haute couture, F/W 2012-2013
©Peter Lindbergh. Courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris / Gagosian Gallery.

“When someone has the courage to be themselves, that is beautiful,” he said. Noting that Photoshop can create unrealistic images, and can “reduce a person to nothing,” Lindbergh explained that fashion photographers have a certain responsibility, whether they like it or not.

“This should be the responsibility of photographers today: to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection,” the staunch anti-retouching advocate told Interview in 2014, a quote that reappears on the exhibition website.

Visitors to the Munich show will get a chance to see how Lindbergh has applied this philosophy to his photography over his 40-year-long career of making images, as well as view displays of more than 200 objects, films, storyboards, and contact sheets that served as inspiration to the artist, or are products of his creative process.

Peter Lindbergh: From Fashion to Reality” opens at the Kunsthalle Munich on April 13, and will be on view until August 27, 2017.

Lindbergh is also one subject of the exhibition “Woman on Street,” along with Garry Winogrand, at the NRW Forum in Dusseldorf, on view until April 30, 2017.

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