An Exclusive Auction of Work by the Late Wildlife Photographer Peter Beard Is Coming to Artnet Auctions

The online auction will include 25 works from the 1960s to 1980s.

Peter Beard. Photo: Shawn Ehlers/WireImage.
Peter Beard, 2006. Photo: Shawn Ehlers/WireImage.

The late photographer Peter Beard was known as a hard-living, charismatic man about town. But it was his passion for African wildlife preservation that fueled Beard’s decades-long career, which ended when the photographer died in April at age 82.

Now, Artnet Auctions is launching “In Focus: Peter Beard,” an online auction of 25 archival works that testify to the artist’s enduring passion for the natural world. The photographs come from the heyday of Beard’s career, during the 1960s through the 1980s. The sale is comprised mainly of his iconic photo-collages, which combine photographic imagery of endangered wildlife with feverish painting, drawing, and scrawling handwritten texts. Estimates range from $5,000 to $50,000. 

“Each work is like a diary page, full of personal mementos or motifs he returns to… with excerpts from favorite writers or his own handprints, and often his own blood wiped over the work,” said Susanna Wenniger, Artnet Auctions’ head of photographs.

Peter Beard, 105 Iber Shot by Roy Holme (on control), for The End of Game (1960). Estimate $12,000–18,000.

Peter Beard, 105 Iber Shot by Roy Holme (on control), for The End of Game (1960). Estimate: $12,000–18,000.

Notable among the lots are Elephant Reaching for the Last Branch on a Tree, Kenya (1960/70), a gelatin silver print with paint and ink additions that captures the majestic creature and the direness of its circumstances, and The Abaderes Buffalos and Eles (1978), a searing photo-collage of animals threatened by poaching.

“Many of the unique photographic works in this auction are originally from Peter Beard’s groundbreaking 1965 book The End of the Game, which was created to make people aware of the vanishing wildlife of East Africa and in particular the fate of the elephants restricted to land where they often died of starvation,” Wenniger said. “This message is still very relevant today during global warming and climate change when wildlife is still very much imperiled.”

Peter Beard, Abaderes Buffalos and Eles (1978). Estimate $30,000–50,000.

Peter Beard, Abaderes Buffalos and Eles (1978). Estimate: $30,000–50,000.

An activist and a documentarian, Beard devoted his career to capturing the struggles a continent in the throes of industrialization. In the weeks since his death, an outpouring of stories from art-world friends and colleagues have commemorated his skill, wit, and charm. 

“Peter’s creativity was alarmingly boundless and non-stop,” writer Bob Colacello told Artnet News.

Peter Beard, Elephant reaching for the last branch on a tree, Kenya (1960/70). Estimate $15,000–20,000.

Peter Beard, Elephant Reaching for the Last Branch on a Tree, Kenya (1960/70). Estimate: $15,000–20,000.

Beard’s work has shown strong results with Artnet Auctions in the past. His Orphaned Cheetahs Cubs, Mweiga, near Nyeri, Kenya recently sold for 36 percent over its $35,000–45,000 estimate, for $61,200. 

“It’s a privilege and honor to offer the works by such a legendary artist,” says Artnet CEO Jacob Pabst. “The Artnet Auctions team has an established record with Peter Beard’s work, and we look forward to sharing this special collecting opportunity with our audience.”

 “In Focus: Peter Beard” is live for bidding May 8–21, 2020, on Artnet Auctions.

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