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Artist Index: Peter Beard

Orphan Cheetah Triptych by Peter Beard Peter Beard, Orphan Cheetah Triptych, 1968

(American, b.1938) is a photographer best known for his collages, diaries, and photographs of African wildlife. At the age of 12, Beard began to supplement his childhood diaries with his photographs, which created the basis of his more mature works. The photographer visited Africa in 1955 and 1960; these trips inspired his lifelong fascination with the region.

After graduating from Yale, where he studied art history, Beard moved to Kenya and documented the demise of elephants and black rhinos, publishing several books on the subject. It was also during this period that the artist created his most famous collage works, which depict the destruction of African wildlife at the hand of mankind.

In addition to his own original works, Beard has collaborated with a number of artists, including Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917–2009), and Francis Bacon (Irish, 1909–1992). During the 1970s and 1980s, his photography shifted focus, and he shot well-known New York City celebrities and politicians.

Peter Beard vs. S&P 500 2002-2012 Peter Beard vs. S&P 500 2002–2012 (click on image for details)

The art market for Beard’s photographs has seen a steady increase since 2009, following the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008. The sell-through rate for 2011 and 2012 were 95% and 78%, respectively. Additionally, four of his highest sale prices achieved at auction occurred from 2011 to 2012, including his record setting work Orphan Cheetah Triptych (1968). In 2012, this collage sold at Christie’s New York for US$662,000, which was over four times its high estimate. Beard’s overall total sales volume for 2012 reached over US$3.4 million, placing him amongst the top 10 photographers sold in 2012.

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