Horst (1906 –1999) was born in Germany as Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann In 1943, he was granted US citizenship under the name Horst P. Horst, but was mostly commonly known as just Horst. He moved from Germany to Paris in 1930 to study architecture. While in Paris he met the French Vogue photographer George Hoyningen-Huene and became his photography assistant. Horst was soon promoted to a fashion photographer for Vogue in 1931. Horst is best known for his black-and-white and later colour photographs of women and Haute Couture fashion, but he is also recognized for his images of interior architecture, celebrity, travel and nature photography as well as his abstracts, Surrealist still-lifes and experimental work.
Horst’s approach to portraiture was that he made his subjects look elegant and glamorous but also mysterious and fascinating as though they were from another world. This is especially so in the ‘Model Lisa Fonssagrives with Harp’ with its dream-like qualities made by an ‘in-camera’ double exposure. Even though this a multiple exposure image the model and harp are both pin sharp and overlaid by a further exposure of a close-up shot of the harp which has produced ghost-type image. An 8 x 10 inch large format camera was used by Horst to create this image. The owner of Vogue and Horst’s employer, Condé Nast, insisted that his photographers use these bulky cameras as they produced richly detailed, high quality imagery but due to the size of the equipment, these images were usually confined to the studio. This image is an example of Surrealism. Horst mixed and collaborated closely with Surrealists such as Salvador Dalí. He shared their interest in eroticising the human form using representations of the female body, often turning to dreams and the unconscious for inspiration adding surreal elements combined with the classical aesthetic.
Horst’s images are held in private and public collections and exhibited across the world in many museums and galleries. His images and were on the front covers of numerous Vogue magazines. He has also published books such as Horst Portraits: 60 Years of Style, Horst: His Work and His World and Patterns from Nature.