Peter Beard occupies the last house on the East End, and from his perch the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean is compelling. Having made art, collages and photography for decades, both here and on exotic travels, and featuring an array of celebrities including Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Bianca Jagger, Lee Radzivill, the two Edie Beales, Karen Blixen, Kamante Gatura, his wife Nejma, and himself often with his head in a fish, he's taken more than a note about fame from Andy Warhol, his erstwhile neighbor. At Guild Hall's new exhibition, "Last Word from Paradise," celebrities and animals mix it up: there's more than a hint of nostalgia for travels to remote places. Beard's artwork juxtaposes party photos from Studio 54 with pictures of endangered animals like the elephant, or alligators that live best in the wild suggesting lost worlds: What about precious, fragile Nature on our planet?
At Guild Hall's opening, Beard held court in the garden, warmly greeting guests in a blue linen shirt. Patrick McMullan worked the crowded gallery rooms shooting clutches of models, and the Montauk contingent, including Cynthia Rowley and her daughter Kit Powers. Lee Radziwill paid homage to Beard in her recent book Lee (Assouline, 2015): "Peter Beard changed my whole life. He opened up so many windows for me, because he taught me to be insatiably curious." At the time he was living between America and Africa often taking people out on safari: "Peter thought of everything as a photograph." Displaying each of his worlds, the Guild Hall show is a valuable documentation of imperiled beauty.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.