The relationship between Pirelli and Peter Lindbergh is significant and long-lasting: over a period of twenty years, when, in 1996 the maestro of fashion photography signed his first Calendar for Pirelli. During this 20 years, with the 2002 Calendar and the celebratory shooting for the fiftieth anniversary of The Cal™, Lindbergh has helped make the Pirelli Calendar into what it represents in the collective imagination today.
The first of the two calendars created by Lindbergh was made in the setting of El Mirage in California. His touch is that of a complete artist: audacious, sharp, secure, with a black and white that is in his hands shaped into grades of grey, giving form to the softness of the bodies, but above all to the characters; to the assertiveness of the gaze and the complicity.
And just three years before had been the book Women, by Peter Lindbergh (1993), which established him as a fashion photographer and – in a juxtaposition that had until then been somewhat unusual – as a great portraitist. Lindbergh’s images are timeless: his documentary style forms a basis in fashion and then mixes, in certain cases, with the oldest traditions of portrait painting.
And it was as a portraitist – or rather, an artist – that Lindbergh confronted the set of his first Pirelli Calendar. The arid plane welcomed great projectors of artificial light against a deep black background. The bodies and the close-ups of the faces of the models erupt from the flat backdrops of the set: among these a young Eva Herzigova, then Navia Nguyen, Nastassja Kinski, Kristen McMenamy, Tatjana Patitz, and Carré Otis.
In 2002 Lindbergh would instead choose Hollywood and the studios, with cityscapes and special effects to shoot Monet Mansur, Bridget Moynahan, Amy Smart, Lauren Bush, Kiera Chaplin, Shannyn Sossamon, Brittany Murphy, Selma Blair, Julia Stiles and Mena Suvari. The Pirelli Calendar 2002 would be very different from the 1996 edition: dreamlike, fantastic, dramatic and cinematic. Starring directly alongside the actresses were the backdrops: the smoke, rain and the stage presence of the crew.
Twelve years on, Lindbergh will take part in the celebratory project for the fiftieth anniversary of The Cal™. Together with Patrick Demarchelier (author of the 2005 and 2008 editions), he will photograph a cast of models representing the visual identity of the recent history of the Calendar: Alessandra Ambrosio, Helena Christensen, Isabeli Fontana, Miranda Kerr, Karolina Kurkova and Alek Wek.
With the invitation to create the 2017 edition, the relationship between Lindbergh and Pirelli is confirmed: the German photographer is the first in the over fifty-year history of the Pirelli Calendar to be invited for the third time to interpret The Cal™, with that unmistakeable mix of classicism and freshness.