A true master and innovator throughout his career, Peter Lindbergh has produced some of the most iconic photographs in fashion. There are the black and white images that he shot for Vogue in 1988, for example, of a group of relatively unknown models in white shirts on the beach, including a young Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Tatjana Patitz. There is the January 1990 cover of British Vogue: a shot of Evangelista, Turlington, and Patitz, along with Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, now considered the birth certificate of the supermodel phenomenon. There are the photographs that he took in the 90s of Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss, and the more recent ones of Gisele Bündchen and Cara Delevingne.
And then there are the two Pirelli Calendars, the first in 1996 and the second in 2002, when for the first time actresses were included in the cast. For the 2017 Pirelli Calendar, Peter Lindbergh goes beyond the camera with the idea that “talent is more important
than beauty.” To do so he recruited 15 actresses – Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Dame Helen Mirren, Uma Thurman, Robin Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Rooney Mara, Jessica Chastain, Charlotte Rampling, Zhang Ziyi, Lea Seydoux – plus Anastasia Ignatova, a professor of political theory in Moscow Lindbergh met last year. However, the Calendar is not the only Pirelli project the photographer worked on this year. While he was scouting locations for the calendar, Lindbergh visited the Settimo Torinese technology hub, the most advanced factory in the Pirelli world. The photographs resulting from the visit were initially supposed to
be part of the Calendar, but because of the beauty and the relevance of the images, the photographer and Marco Tronchetti Provera, Executive Vice President and CEO, decided to make them into a future exhibition on innovation, which will be held in 2017. Here, Peter Lindbergh talks about his visit to the Settimo Torinese technology hub, his new interest in inanimate objects, and the future of fashion photography and art.
Why a technology hub? What are the circumstances that led you to shoot at Settimo Torinese?
The whole thing started when Marco Tronchetti Provera approached me. “Peter, we are a high-tech company,” he told me, “and I want to do something innovative.” His idea was
to introduce some technical aspects in the new Pirelli calendar and I found the idea inspiring. Actually, to be honest, at first I told Marco that his idea was not doable. But then, talking to him, his point of view was so sophisticated and intellectually interesting
that I found myself drawn to the task. He told me what machines mean for him and for the Pirelli history and at that point I found the idea, with all the surrounding implications very, very challenging. The day after, I left in the afternoon with the goal to have a look and see what i would feel. I realized pretty soon that from a production point of view it would have been impossible to bring the actresses into the factory and shoot them there. So, I proposed that I would go to the factory by myself and take pictures of the factory alone – the machines, the robots – and try to establish an emotional connection with them, making them look like people. I wasn’t sure that I would succeed but the result was highly satisfying and it still is. Some of the robots really behaved like humans.