Frank Horvat is an internationally renowned fashion photographer whose career spanned seven decades. He embraced fashion photography and classic “reportage.” He was unafraid to experiment and adapt to new technologies, transcending the confines of conventional photography. He is credited as one of the founders of contemporary French fashion photography. His artistic career is diverse and complex. He is remembered for his spontaneity, trust, and empathy, which are all expressed in his sophisticated photographs.
During the late 1950s, Frank Horvat became a celebrated pioneer of fashion photography by challenging studio-based fashion shoots’ stale conventions. He photographed the city’s dynamic energy, placing his models in real-life situations, combining realism and artifice. This journalistic kind of fashion photography profoundly influenced the genre. Horvat would continue to photograph aspects of cities and urban life persisting in the style and subject matter that first brought him to the medium. Although he was well known for his innovative fashion images, Horvat is also an exceptional street photographer. His career started in the documentary field with the European photo agencies Realities and Black Star mode.
Frank Horvat was born in Italy in 1928. At age fifteen, he started photographing with a 35 mm Retinamat camera and later moved to Milan to study art in 1947. By 1950 he was doing freelance work for Italian fashion magazines. Epoca published his first photographic essay in 1951. Horvat was one of the first artists to use the 35mm film camera and reportage techniques to fashion art photography. His new and more realistic style became embraced by other photographers in England, France, and the United States. His style combined realism and artifice, movement, and inventive locations, which won him immediate success as a French fashion photographer. His photographs have appeared in leading European and American magazines, including Life, Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Jardin des Modes from 1951-61. Horvat initially worked for the American picture agency Magnum. He moved to Paris three years later and currently divides his time between the city and the south of France. Horvat’s work with French fashion photography has been exhibited worldwide. Many volumes have been published on his career, as well as numerous museum retrospectives.
Frank Horvat was cosmopolitan, spoke five languages, and had total independence in his picture-making. He never looked back and was as happy to use his camera as a way to explore his understanding of the world of fashion and style as he was to chronicle the daily world around him. He was a trailblazer in creating exciting and uncharacteristically beautiful photographs. In 2020, the photographer passed away at the age of 92. He leaves an indelible photographic legacy.
SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS:
• Museum of Modern Art, New York, US
• Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
• Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, FR,
• Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, FR
• Kunstbibliothek, Berlin, DE