Horst P. Horst

A beautiful image

curated by Walter Guadagnini

in collaboration with Horst Estate, USA e Paci Contemporary, Brescia


Eighty years ago, in 1939, Horst P. Horst decided to leave Europe and move to the Unites States, sensing that the tragedy of war was drawing closer:

I left the studio at four in the morning, went home, took my luggage and took the 7 am train for Le Havre to board the ‘Normandie’. We all felt that war was imminent. Too many weapons, too much talk. And we knew that whatever was going to happen, life was not going to be the same. In Paris, I had found a family and a way of life. Clothes, books, my apartment, everything had to be let go”.

It is a dramatic moment in which all the bonds arduously built in France by the photographer – born in Weissenfels, Germany in 1906 – are broken, and a new life begins, in a new world. The last Parisian image by Horst is one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, the Mainbocher Corset, a masterpiece of elegance and seduction as well as the skillful use of light and shape, that has a central role in the exhibition that Palazzo Magnani dedicates to the great photographer, who passed away twenty years ago in 1999, in Palm Beach in the US.

The show presents the milestones of Horst’s life and career: renowned photographs, like Odalisque, and shots for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, which made him a leading light of fashion photography worldwide from the 1930s to the 1950s. Also on display are Horst’s portraits of the Parisian artist community in the 1930s – a gallery of intellectual celebrities from Jean Cocteau to Salvador Dali – as well as the colour photographs which attracted appreciation at the artist’s retrospective at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2015.

Horst P. Horst created images that transcend fashion and time. He was a master of light, composition and atmospheric illusion, able to evoke a world of sensual sophistication. Throughout an incredible career lasting over 60 years, his photographs adorned the pages of Vogue and House and Garden, signed solely by the name Horst.

He trained alongside Irving Penn and Richard Avedon as one of the most eminent fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th century. An international figure, Horst worked largely in Paris and New York. Born in Germany, he became an American citizen in 1943, changing his surname from Bormann to Horst. His wide range of work outside of the photography studio communicates an unstoppable visual curiosity, and a constant desire for new challenges. The huge collection of prints, drawings, notebooks, albums and letters, carefully conserved by Horst during his lifetime, as well as the thousands of prints collected in Condé Nast’s archives, are proof of his unique talent.

SATURDAY, APRIL 13th › 12am

guided tour with Walter Guadagnini


SATURDAY, APRIL 20th › 4pm

guided tour


SATURDAY, JUNE 1st › 4pm

guided tour


Palazzo Magnani
corso Garibaldi 29 - Reggio Emilia


opening hours

opening days
April 12th › 7 pm - 11 pm
April 13th › 10 am - 11 pm
April 14th › 10 am - 8 pm

April 20th to June 9th
Saturday and Sunday › 10am-7pm

Special openings
April 22nd, 25th, 26th › 10am-7pm
May 1st, 2nd, 3rd › 10am-7pm

Night openings
April 27th › 10 am - 11 pm
May 25th › 10 am - 11 pm
June 8th › 10 am - 11 pm

Palazzo Magnani