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Peter Beard, Visions of Nature in the Pirelli Calendar

It was the late American photographer Peter Beard, who passed away at the age of 82, who put his name to the 2009 Pirelli Calendar. His photos remain in the history of “The Cal” as a warning about harming the environment: “My real concern is the destruction of nature – we’ve totally forgotten that it is to her that we owe our survival”.

Set in Botswana, in the Okavango Delta and in the Kalahari Desert, Beard’s Pirelli Calendar is much more than an exercise in photography: it is a written, drawn, and narrated diary – and also photographed, of course – that the artist referred to as a “living sculpture”. A powerful tale of Africa in 56 plates, in which seven models have the task of reconnecting mankind with nature in a close dialogue. Peter Beard met Karen Blixen in Denmark in 1961 and, the following year, on their two adjacent ranches outside of Nairobi, they shared their experiences of the continent, which she so brilliantly described in her masterpiece, Out of Africa. In 1965 Beard published The End of the Game, a book with a collection of photographs and texts in which he documented the disappearance of elephants in Kenya and the end of the myth of the invulnerability of nature. From that moment on, his photos became an extraordinary, surprising new vision of Africa. A life spent exploring the world, leaving traces everywhere he went.

It was the late American photographer Peter Beard, who passed away at the age of 82, who put his name to the 2009 Pirelli Calendar. His photos remain in the history of “The Cal” as a warning about harming the environment: “My real concern is the destruction of nature – we’ve totally forgotten that it is to her that we owe our survival”.

Set in Botswana, in the Okavango Delta and in the Kalahari Desert, Beard’s Pirelli Calendar is much more than an exercise in photography: it is a written, drawn, and narrated diary – and also photographed, of course – that the artist referred to as a “living sculpture”. A powerful tale of Africa in 56 plates, in which seven models have the task of reconnecting mankind with nature in a close dialogue. Peter Beard met Karen Blixen in Denmark in 1961 and, the following year, on their two adjacent ranches outside of Nairobi, they shared their experiences of the continent, which she so brilliantly described in her masterpiece, Out of Africa. In 1965 Beard published The End of the Game, a book with a collection of photographs and texts in which he documented the disappearance of elephants in Kenya and the end of the myth of the invulnerability of nature. From that moment on, his photos became an extraordinary, surprising new vision of Africa. A life spent exploring the world, leaving traces everywhere he went.