Frank Horvat

(b. 1928)

Frank Horvat was born in 1928 in Abbazia, Italy (formerly Austro-Hungary, now Opatija, Croatia). Having traded his stamp collection for a 35mm camera at the age of fifteen, Horvat was already an accomplished photographer by 1950, when he met Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson (a close friend ever since) during his first trip to Paris, and decided to become a photojournalist. In the early 50's, after traveling to Pakistan and India as a freelance photographer, Horvat settled in London, working for Life and the Picture Post. In 1955, Horvat moved to Paris, where he still lives, and became a fashion photographer—using the techniques of photojournalism: real life situations, available light, and 35mm cameras.

Frank Horvat is a pioneer of what has come to be regarded as a golden age of fashion photography—the legacy of which is explored in the Museum of Modern Art's current exhibition, "Fashioning Fiction in Photography Since 1990." In the late 1950's and early 1960's, Horvat worked for Jardin des Modes, Elle, Glamour, Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar, while also an associate member of the Magnum agency. Horvat's fashion photography was frowned upon by his colleges at Magnum who only accepted reportage, and this made him destroy quite a few of his negatives at the time—hence the reason why this exhibition of vintage photos consists of either unique images or compositions of which only a few prints survive.


Vintage Photographs

The photographs on view have a special significance for the artist. In his foreword for this exhibition, Frank Horvat wrote that "If I had to estimate how many times I have pressed that button (say at an average of a thousand rolls a year), I would end up with a figure of millions. Among these shots, there may be a few thousand instances where, by the efforts of my eyes and my legs, by the use of experience or stubbornness, by the help of endeavor, foresight or sheer luck, I have been able to match the composition in the viewfinder with the archetype in my mind. But then there are a few other photographs, possibly not more than twenty or thirty, that know I did not take: they have been given to me. These may be the ones worth preserving.”

Inquiries welcome. Exhibition catalogue available. To find out more, visit the artist’s website.