Snap Judgement

Walter Pfeiffer’s Hyères Retrospective

Although he has been turning out vivacious, off-the-cuff images of beautiful young men and women since the 70s (his first ten-year retrospective monograph came out in 1980), it’s only in the current decade that Swiss photographer Walter Pfeiffer has been hailed as a master of the form, with Vogue and i-D (among others) knocking at his door. Pfeiffer’s long-delayed, but much-deserved acclaim is not a reflection on the quality of his preceding work—his early shots of buff boys in bedsits are as entrancing as his wild portraits of Eva Herzigova in Paris’s Le Meurice hotel for Vogue—but an indication of an aesthetic shift in the fashion world. Once ruled by Avedon’s quietly composed black and white images, Juergen Teller's and Terry Richardson’s from-the-hip style now dominates, emphasizing just how groundbreaking Pfeiffer’s work is. In recompense, a retrospective of his career is being mounted this month as part of the Hyères festival. The show is one element of an annual series of exhibitions exploring the recent history of photography (subjects in previous years have included Guy Bourdin and Peter Knapp) and runs from April 30.

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