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July 25 2014

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On Our Radar: Walter Pfeiffer

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It does the great Swiss photographer Walter Pfeiffer no favors to suggest he’s a kind of proto-Terry Richardson—if anything, the debt is in the other direction—but suffice it to say, it’s hard to imagine the gritty, my-world-and-the-naked-young-friends-in-it style of Terry’s Diary without him. Pfeiffer toiled in relative obscurity for years, producing amazing, seemingly tossed-off snapshots of the kids hanging out at his studio for landmark gay collections like Walter Pfeiffer 1970-1980 and Das Auge, die Gedanken, unentwegt wandernd (The Eyes, the Thoughts, Ceaselessly Wandering). In more recent years, he’s been taken up by the fashion establishment—he shot an amazing series of guys and candy for Candy, and several seasons of Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland’s campaigns—but much of his early work remains out of print or hard to track down. All the more reason to be cheerful that my friends at the London shop LN-CC rounded up some of the best—thanks to Conor Donlon, the mastermind of Donlon Books, who curates their bookshop as well as his own—most signed by Pfeiffer himself. The most recent, Scrapbooks 1969-1985 (top), is a cut-and-paste compendium of seemingly everything the photographer saw, from his own work to clippings from Women’s Wear Daily and obscure Swiss men’s fashion catalogs. Tumblr before Tumblr. But better.

The Walter Pfeiffer collection, along with an interview with the photographer, is now online at ln-cc.com.

Photos: Courtesy of LN-CC

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Dept. of Culture