Born in 1938 in New York City and raised in New York City, Alabama and Islip, Long Island, Peter Beard began keeping diaries at an early age. He took his first pictures at the age of twelve and photography quickly evolved into an extension of his diaries, as a way to preserve and remember favorite things. In 1957 he entered Yale University as a pre-med undergraduate, but soon switched his major to art history, studying under Vincent Scully, Joseph Albers and Richard Linder.
Trips to Africa in 1955 and 1960 piqued his interests and, after graduating from Yale, he returned to Africa. In the early ’60s he worked at Kenya’s Tsavo National Park where he photographed and documented the demise of over 35,000 elephants, which later became the subject of his first book “The End of the Game” (1965). During the same period he acquired Hog Ranch, the property adjacent to Karen Blixen’s (Isak Dinesen), whom he had met through his cousin Jerome Hill. Hog Ranch, located near the Ngong Hills, became his home base in East Africa. Beard has written further books on his African experience: “Eyelids of Morning” (1973), “Longing for Darkness” (1975) and “Zara’s Tales: Perilous Escapades in Equatorial Africa” (2004), written for his daughter.
Beard’s first exhibit was at the Blum Helman Gallery in New York in 1975. This was quickly followed by his landmark installation at the International Center of Photography in New York City in 1977. This show exhibited his photographs, elephant carcasses, burned diaries, taxidermy, African artifacts, books and personal memorabilia.
In addition to creating original artwork, Beard has befriended and collaborated on projects with many legendary artists including Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth, Richard Linder, Terry Southern, Truman Capote and Francis Bacon.
In 1996, shortly after he was trampled by an elephant, his first major retrospective opened at the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, followed by other exhibits in Berlin, London, Toronto, Madrid, Milan, Tokyo and Vienna.
Beard currently splits his time between New York City, Montauk Point and Kenya, living with his wife and agent Nejma and their daughter Zara.
Biography Credit: IMDb Mini Biography By: Peter Beard Studio