"I don’t mind the word ‘dilettante,’” Peter Beard once said of himself. “A dilettante means someone who does what he loves.”
“Peter Beard — gentleman, socialite, artist, photographer, Lothario, prophet, playboy and fan of recreational drugs — is the last of the adventurers.” - The Observer
“James Dean grown up.” -The Evening Standard
The American writer Bob Colacello once described Beard as “half-Tarzan, half-Byron”, perfectly encapsulating the larger-than-life persona of the artist.
Beard was an American photographer whose love for the African wilderness lead to his documentary images of the continent's fragile ecology arranged in unique photo collages that combine painting, drawing, text, cut outs and sometimes blood. “The wilderness is gone,” the artist had said, “and with it much more than we can appreciate or predict. We'll suffer for it.” Besides documenting Africa’s vanishing fauna, he photographed fashion shoots for Vogue, Elle and other magazines.
A regular of Studio 54 in its heyday, he partied with the likes of Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Salvador Dalí, Mrs. Onassis, Grace Jones, the Rolling Stones and Francis Bacon, who painted his portrait more than once.
Former girlfriend, Lee Radziwill (sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) sorting through the lots, including Peter Beard’s Running Giraffe, once hung in Radziwill’s Paris apartment, David Croland’s portrait of Radziwill, and a colorful cabbage tureen.
Below, from “Zara’s Tales,” written for his daughter, "Yes, the time has come now to slow down and dream dreams about the old world, the wild life, the wild animals, the wonderful things we may or may not have left behind. And this world shrinks and turns and changes in front of your eyes, try and remember that what I've put down here is true and that's Nature's truth is always, greater, stranger, more complex, and more incredible than mankind's make-believe."