Twentieth-Century Man: The Wild Life of Peter Beard

Ecco. Jul. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780063066410. $32.99. BIOG
Journalist Wallace provides an insightful accounting of Peter Beard’s outsized life and character. Beard (1938–2020) was a legendary adventurous artist and wildlife photographer who maximized his experiences around the globe. His photography depicted dramatic images of Africa’s wildlife and spanned the fashion world, which included working with famous models. Wallace says Beard had a “yearn to preserve,” to collect moments and experiences, using photography to help synthesize his memories. Coming from a well-educated family with adventurous roots and an appreciation for fine art, he later translated that into his personal and professional life. He became pessimistic about social constructs such as marriage and social clubs, calling them phony. Contradictory to this attitude, he was well-connected to high society, which led to his collaboration with Andy Warhol, a tour with the Rolling Stones, and his attendance at bullfights with Picasso. Wallace was a long-time admirer of Beard and became friends with him in his later years, which lends intimacy to this portrait of the artist’s life. This book is thorough and will keep readers engaged.
VERDICT Overall, Beard’s life reads like the adventure it was. Recommended for both general interest readers and photography enthusiasts.
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