PETER BASCH (1921-2004) was an important German/American photographer who captured hypnotic images of the most prominent stars of the 50s and 60s. He was born in Berlin, the only child of Austrian parents Felix Basch and Grete Basch-Freund, both prominent German theatre and film personalities. In 1933, the family came to New York, initially opening a restaurant on Central Park South, subsequently moving to Los Angeles - during which time Basch went to school in England. He was mobilized in the US Army Air Forces' First Motion Picture Unit, where he worked as a script boy.
After the war, he attended UCLA, taking photographs of young starlets, working with a number of photographers and film studios, including G.W. Pabst in France and became the assistant of the great portrait photographer Laszlo Willinger. His parents obtained a studio for him back in New York, and for over twenty years he had a successful career, becoming one of the foremost magazine photographers. He was notable for his images of celebrities, artists, dancers, actors, starlets, and glamour-girls in America and Europe, his photos appearing in many major publications including Life, Look and Playboy.
His oeuvre includes iconic images of the most prominent midcentury European and American stars - the images capturing the heart and spirit of these glamorous performers. Taking pictures in natural light, he created a more naturalistic, less contrived look than the carefully controlled Hollywood studio shots of the previous era.
Basch authored and co-authored a number of books containing his photographs including: Candid Photography (1958), Peter Basch's Glamour Photography (1958), Peter Basch photographs beauties of the world (1958) Camera in Rome (1963), Peter Basch Photographs 100 Famous Beauties (1965), The Nude as Form & Figure (1966), Put a Girl in Your Pocket: The Artful Camera of Peter Basch (1969), Peter Basch's Guide to Figure Photography (1975 with Jack Rey).
8½ - Fellini
Jules et Jim - Truffaut
Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune - Vadim
The Vice and the Virtue - Vadim
Fearless Vampire Killers - Polanski
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - De Sica
Une Femme Est Une Femme Goddard
Fear - Rosselini
Cartouche - De Broca
Giant - Stevens
Anne Frank - Stevens
Guys and Dolls – Mankiewicz
Horse Soldiers - Ford
Majority of One - Leroy
Walk on the Wild Side - Dmytryk
Wild in the Streets - Spear
Leonidas - Matte
The Day the Fish Came Out - Cocayannis
The Pawnbroker - Lumet
La Verite - Clouzot
La Loi Sacree - Pabst
Baby Doll - Kazan
Summertime - Lean
The 13 Most Beautiful Girls - Warhol
The Three Sisters - Bogart
Francis of Assissi - Curtiz
The Swimmer Perry
The Man Who Had Power Over Women
The Spy With The Cold Nose
2002 Jewish Museum - Vienna Austria “Vom Grossvater vertrieben”
2002 LEICA Gallery, NYC Portrait of Al Hirschfeld
2001 National Portrait Gallery -- London Dame Elizabeth (Taylor)
2001 Fahey-Klein Gallery, LA Group Show/Great Directors
2001 Museum/City of New York, Al Hirschfeld Exhibit
2000 Museum of Modern Art, NY, Brigitte Bardot
1999 Vienna, Austria – “übersee”
1999 Stadt Museum, Munich, Germany “TWEN” exhibit
1997 Museum of the Moving Image – Grace Kelly
1996 Staley Wise Gallery, NY “Shooting Stars” – one man show
1980s Museum of Modern Art, NY, Sophia Loren LA County Museum "Masters
of Starlight" (subsequently travelled to Tokyo & Kyoto, Japan) Stadt
Museum, Munich, Germany “AKT” (nudes)
THOUGHTS ON PETER BASCH BY HIS DAUGHTER:
"My father, Peter Basch, saw. He looked and he saw. He taught me to see. He taught me to listen and hear. We used to play a game when I was little. He’d say, Michele, look at the street then look at me, what did you see? I would list the cars, red, black, navy; people, fat, tall, thin; children, parents; trees and plants. He would add the detail. A blue car with New York plates, a black car with New Jersey plates. The people were not just tall or small, thin or fat, they wore coats or sweaters, and they laughed or were sad. The trees had leaves, were close together, the green was dark, vivid, the sun playing with the shadow.
My father saw. He captured in his mind and on film the unexpected moment in time, the interaction between two people, the look, the thought, and the breath that punctuated the decision.
My father was one of the great romantics. He had a true love and appreciation of beauty in its purest form. We would talk about beauty and her differences: natural, Hollywood, young, old and the beauty of communication, interaction, the beauty of the moment. He recorded the breath in time on film: two ladies in Paris reading the paper, a dachshund looking around the corner, a chair in front of the Eiffel Tower. My father saw the thought and seized it for posterity.
My father understood the language light speaks to shadow. He showed me how the sun plays with dark. His favourite moment was at sunrise when the shadows were long and soft. He saw every hue from white to black and everything in between. He understood the language, taught and published books on light and shadow, form and figure. I travelled through Europe with my father. I was his assistant! And proud of it! I was the camera person! Changed the film, made sure the lens was clean, stood in during special poses, helped in the dark room, retouched to refine and perfect. I loved watching him talk and listen. He listened to Jane Fonda, Ursula Andress, Brigit Bardot, Fellini, Mastroiani and so many more. He listened and recorded the answer, the thought, that moment of indecision, realization and seduction."