Peter Beard - ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales London Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, 2004
    Private Collection, UK

  • Literature

    Peter Beard, Cologne: Taschen, 2008, fig. no. 183, variant
    P. Beard, Zara's Tales: Perilous Escapades in Equatorial Africa, New York: Knopf, 2004, pp. 56-57, variant

  • Catalogue Essay

    If Peter Beard’s legendary 1965 publication The End of the Game could be condensed into a single work, it would be this monumental composition Downwind on the Tiva Lugga. Taken in 1965, the same year as the book’s release, the panoramic photograph at centre stage features the dry river Tiva in Kenya’s Tsavo region. At the time, Beard was working in Tsavo East National Park, where he witnessed and recorded the tragic die-off of elephants - the animal most deeply ingrained within The End of the Game. Yet contrary to his harrowing images of animal corpses and bones, this seemingly peaceful landscape recaptures ‘the life and spirit of a once unspoiled continent’. In this one moment captured by his camera, Africa’s wildlife exists in harmony with its natural environment.

    Written across the Kenyan sky in Beard’s distinctive hand are the words of British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 -1913):

    It seemed sad that, on the one hand, such exquisite creatures should live out their lives, doomed for ages yet to come to hopeless barbarism, while on the other hand, should civilised man ever reach those distant lands and bring moral, intellectual and physical light into the recesses of these virgin forests, we may be sure that he will so disturb the nicely balanced relations of organic and inorganic nature as to cause the disappearance and finally the extinction of these very beings whose wonderful structure and beauty he alone is fitted to appreciate and enjoy (The Malay Archipelago, 1880).

    Beard’s appropriation of Wallace’s quote provides the narrative to this poignant work – man’s unique ability to appreciate and inevitably destroy the wonders of the natural world.

    Along the periphery of the composition is a collage of small photographs featuring traditional and Western hunters who came to Africa in the early 20th century to hunt big game. The intrusive presence and activities of these early Western hunters triggered an ecological and social disharmony that eventually resulted in the mass extinction of game in Africa. The struggle for dominance between man and animal, progress and nature as predicted by Beard back in 1965 continues to this very day.

    Downwind on the Tiva Lugga presents the quintessential Peter Beard – visual poet, alchemist, prophet – and epitomises his unique aesthetic and socially conscious approach. Once described as ‘Odysseus with a camera’, he is a visionary ahead of his time whose powerful work continues to resonate long after its creation. Among the largest compositions created by Beard, the exceptional work offered here has remained in the same collection since it was originally acquired in 2004 and is appearing at auction for the first time.



Downwind on the Tiva Lugga, Tsavo North near Kathamula

Unique mural-sized work, comprising gelatin silver print with ink and affixed gelatin silver, chromogenic, and Polaroid prints, with a feather, a sticker and a photocopied drawing, executed 2004.
Sheet: 126.2 x 419.6 cm (49 5/8 x 165 1/4 in.)
Frame: 149 x 442.3 cm (58 5/8 x 174 1/8 in.)

Signed, dated and extensively annotated in ink on the recto; Peter Beard Studio copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the verso; signed in red ink on the reverse of the frame.

This work is unique.

£150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for £187,500

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018