Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann, who chose to be known as Horst P. Horst, was born on 14 August 1906 – passing away November 18, 1999 at the age of 93. Horst was a German-American fashion photographer.
After an encounter with dancer Evan Weidemann during his adult years, Horst found an interest in art. After studying at Hamburg in late 1920s, he soon moved to Paris and was taught by architect Le Corbusier.
During his time in Paris, Horst became close with Vogue photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene. Horst became his lover and photographic assistant, soon his interests swayed from architecture towards photography.
Horst became one of the original pioneers of 20thCentury fashion photography. His signature style is today instantly recognisable – combining portraiture and fashion with simple but essential embellishments.
Horst is best known for his photographs of women and fashion, but is also recognized for his photographs of interior architecture, still lifes (especially ones including plants, and environmental portraits.) One of Horst’s great iconic photos of the Twentieth-Century is “The Mainbocher Corset” with its erotically charged mystery, captured by Horst in Vogue’s Paris studio in 1939. “The Mainbocher Corset” is still an inspiration for their outerwear collections still to this day.
His method of work typically entailed careful preparation for the shoot, with the lighting and studio props arranged in advance. His instructions to models are remembered as being brief and to the point.
His published work uses lighting to pick out the subject. Horst frequently used four spotlights, often one of them pointing down from the ceiling. Only rarely do his photos include shadows falling on the background of the set. Horst rarely, if ever, used filters.
While most of his work is in black & white, much of his color photography includes largely monochromatic settings to set off a colorful fashion. After making the photograph, Horst generally left it up to others to develop, print, crop, and edit his work.
One of Horst’s most famous portraits is of Marlene Dietrich, taken in 1942. She protested the lighting that he had selected and arranged, but he used it anyway. Dietrich liked the results and subsequently used a photo from the session in her own publicity.