TASCHEN has re-released Peter Beard’s Gesamtkunstwerk, a collage of photography, ecology, and diary writing from his life in New York and on the African continent.
The first edition of the book sold out instantly, and it has now been re-released following the recent passing of the artist, photographer, diarist, and writer. Peter Beard was found dead in April, 2020, after going missing for almost three weeks at the age of 82.
Peter Beard’s photography and journals have been popular since the 1960s, and his art has been exhibited all over the world. He was a photographer for magazines like Vogue and Elle and made friends and collaborators of other artists like Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Truman Capote, Andrew Wyeth, Francis Bacon, Karen Blixen, and Richard Lindner.
His first book, The End of the Game, documented the demise of 35,000 elephants at Tsavo National Park in southern Kenya. His journals all contain a mixture of content, which include photographs, found objects, transcriptions, drawings, and sometimes blood…both animal and his own.
Peter Beard was born into a family with a railroad fortune on one side and a tobacco fortune on the other. As an art history student at Yale, he became a member of the secret society Scroll and Key. Beard was a regular at Studio 54, often shared his controversial beliefs, and was was once gored by an elephant. He was considered wild in the realm of drugs, alcohol, and women.
“I’m an escapist,” he once told Vanity Fair. “I’m not a planner; I’ve never made a decision about anything in my life. The good thing about Africa is that you can escape forever. You can do what you want, without someone looking over your shoulder. I’m the most irresponsible person you ever met.”