Tappe took photographs 'of real people'

Photographer Horst Tappe, whose portraits of literary and artistic luminaries included Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Vladimir Nabokov and Alfred Hitchcock, has died, a friend of the artist said on Monday. He was 67.

Tappe died on August 21 in Vevey, Switzerland, after a long battle with cancer, said friend and collaborator Charlotte Contesse.

His most widely reproduced portraits include his photo of Picasso half in shadow and staring sideways and a 1970 shot of the Russian novelist Nabokov wearing knee pants and holding a butterfly net.

Other memorable photos include a wide-eyed Dalí in a Western shirt with arms crossed, and James Bond creator Ian Fleming hand on chin.

“They were photographs of friends, photographs of real people,” Contesse said.

The German photographer also captured images of actor Charlie Chaplin, British playwright Sir Noel Coward, United States writer Patricia Highsmith, French detective novelist Georges Simenon, US poet Ezra Pound, Indian novelist Salman Rushdie and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.

His photos were exhibited widely and he published books out of his collections on both Nabokov and Austrian-born expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka. His Nabokov collection was recently exhibited in the US at George Washington and Columbia universities.

“No other photographer had such immediate and intimate access to Nabokov over so many years,” according to Brian Boyd, author of Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years.

“Many of the photographs are already famous.
Others, never published before, promise to become no less so,” Boyd said ahead of Tappe’s first US exhibition.

Tappe first befriended Nabokov when the Russian was staying at the Montreux Palace hotel in 1962 after being introduced by their mutual friend, actor Peter Ustinov. Over the next 15 years, he was allowed to photograph the author of Lolita at his most intimate: bent over his desk writing, walking the town with his wife, Vera, or catching butterflies on the grassy foothills of the Swiss Alps.

A current exhibition of Tappe’s photographs of Kokoschka are being shown at the Musee de Montreux until October 30.

Tappe was born on May 13 1938 in the west German region of Westphalia and studied photography in Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main.

He continued his education in Vevey, Switzerland, before settling in the resort town of Montreux on the banks of Lake Geneva in 1965.

He was a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines worldwide and a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers.

Tappe, who never married, is survived by his brother, Voelker, who lives in Germany.—Sapa-AP

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