Life through a lens: From glamour of 1950s Paris to gritty 1980s New York

The celebrated photographer Frank Horvat died a year ago this month after a career spanning eight decades. He is best known for helping to free French fashion photography from its stiffness in the 1950s by taking models out of the studio and into the streets to shoot. Before that, he was a globetrotting photojournalist, working in his native Italy as well as across India and Pakistan shortly after the countries gained independence. Here, we look back at the photographs and life of the man whose boundless curiosity fueled his life-long passion for his art.

Paris, France, 1959: Model Monique Dutto at metro exit for Les Jardin des Modes. Horvat is famed for helping to free French fashion photography from its stiffness in the 1950s.

Paris, France, 1959: Model Monique Dutto at metro exit for Les Jardin des Modes. Horvat is famed for helping to free French fashion photography from its stiffness in the 1950s.

New York, USA, 1984: A Big Apple at Christmas time uptown. In the late 1970s, Horvat began pursuing his own project, producing works on subjects as diverse as New York City, sculptures and trees.

New York, USA, 1984: A Big Apple at Christmas time uptown. In the late 1970s, Horvat began pursuing his own project, producing works on subjects as diverse as New York City, sculptures and trees.

Photographer Frank Horvat at an exhibition of his work at the Galerie Hiltawsky in Berlin in 2012. He died one year ago this month, aged 92. Horvat was born into a world on the move. The Austro-Hungarian Empire that birthed his parents had vanished ten years before he arrived on the scene on April, 28, 1928. Abbazia, the Italian resort town where he was born, would become Opatija, and Croatian, less than two decades later, but by then he was already long gone. His family was forced to flee their home in 1939 shortly after Fascist Italy imposed its racial laws, discriminating against Jews like the Horvats. Karl Horvat, his father and a pediatrician, went into hiding in Budapest then onto Israel when the state formed in 1948.

Photographer Frank Horvat at an exhibition of his work at the Galerie Hiltawsky in Berlin in 2012. He died one year ago this month, aged 92. Horvat was born into a world on the move. The Austro-Hungarian Empire that birthed his parents had vanished ten years before he arrived on the scene on April, 28, 1928. Abbazia, the Italian resort town where he was born, would become Opatija, and Croatian, less than two decades later, but by then he was already long gone. His family was forced to flee their home in 1939 shortly after Fascist Italy imposed its racial laws, discriminating against Jews like the Horvats. Karl Horvat, his father and a pediatrician, went into hiding in Budapest then onto Israel when the state formed in 1948.

New York, United States, 1983: East 55th Street, sealed up building. A friend suggested that a camera could help a young Horvat to break the ice with girls, sparking a lifelong passion with photography in the process.

New York, United States, 1983: East 55th Street, sealed up building. A friend suggested that a camera could help a young Horvat to break the ice with girls, sparking a lifelong passion with photography in the process.

New Delhi, India, 1952: Jantar Mantar. Horvat's work extended far beyond the pages of glossy magazines and took him around the world in search of inspiring subjects.

 New Delhi, India, 1952: Jantar Mantar. Horvat’s work extended far beyond the pages of glossy magazines and took him around the world in search of inspiring subjects.

Paris, France, 1962: Model Iris Bianchi and the film director Agne¿s Varda for Harper's Bazaar. Varda (left), who died in 2019, was one of the key figures in French New Wave cinema.

Paris, France, 1962: Model Iris Bianchi and the film director Agnès Varda for Harper’s Bazaar. Varda (left), who died in 2019, was one of the key figures in French New Wave cinema.

Puglia, Italy, 1950: Procession. Horvat started his career in advertising before turning his attention to photojournalism.

Puglia, Italy, 1950: Procession. Horvat started his career in advertising before turning his attention to photojournalism.

Italy, 1948: Relic on a beach. One of Horvat's first subjects was Italy's impoverished south, where he documented post-war life.

Italy, 1948: Relic on a beach. One of Horvat’s first subjects was Italy’s impoverished south, where he documented post-war life.

Campobasso, Italy, 1950: A procession. Horvat sold his photos of post-war Italy to publications in Germany and France, becoming a professional photographer in the process.

Campobasso, Italy, 1950: A procession. Horvat sold his photos of post-war Italy to publications in Germany and France, becoming a professional photographer in the process.

Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy, 1949: Traditional footwear. Horvat's photographs of southern Italy after the war were shocking in their portrayal of poverty but also showed communities steeped in tradition.

Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy, 1949: Traditional footwear. Horvat’s photographs of southern Italy after the war were shocking in their portrayal of poverty but also showed communities steeped in tradition.

Kolkata, India, 1952: Gathering of homeless people. A chance encounter with Sikh troops during the Second World War inspired Horvat to travel to India.

Kolkata, India, 1952: Gathering of homeless people. A chance encounter with Sikh troops during the Second World War inspired Horvat to travel to India.

Lahore, Pakistan, 1952: Bride at a Muslim wedding. This photo is included in The Family of Man, a groundbreaking exhibition, now housed in Luxembourg, which toured the world for eight years and was seen by more than nine million people.

Lahore, Pakistan, 1952: Bride at a Muslim wedding. This photo is included in The Family of Man, a groundbreaking exhibition, now housed in Luxembourg, which toured the world for eight years and was seen by more than nine million people.

Lahore, Pakistan, 1952: A veiled woman. In the 1950s, photos from South Asia were something of a rarity for European publications, and Horvat's were immediately snapped up by several outlets hungry for a glimpse into far-flung lands.

Lahore, Pakistan, 1952: A veiled woman. In the 1950s, photos from South Asia were something of a rarity for European publications, and Horvat’s were immediately snapped up by several outlets hungry for a glimpse into far-flung lands.

Paris, France, 1955: Couple at Quai du Louvre couple. Horvat studied the work of his idol, the renowned French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose photographs he would always admire above all others' and with whom he would develop a lasting friendship.

Paris, France, 1955: Couple at Quai du Louvre couple. Horvat studied the work of his idol, the renowned French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose photographs he would always admire above all others’ and with whom he would develop a lasting friendship.

Near Paris, France, 1956: Michel and Lorenzo, two of Horvat's sons. Horvat would also often include his children in his fashion work.

Near Paris, France, 1956: Michel and Lorenzo, two of Horvat’s sons. Horvat would also often include his children in his fashion work.

Caracas, Venezuela, 1963: 'Superblocos' tower blocks. Photography offered Horvat the opportunity to travel to places considered off the beaten track at the time.

Caracas, Venezuela, 1963: ‘Superblocos’ tower blocks. Photography offered Horvat the opportunity to travel to places considered off the beaten track at the time.

Caracas, Venezuela, 1963: 'Superblocos' tower blocks. Horvat's boundless curiosity informed his photography, and was married with a skillful eye for composition.

Caracas, Venezuela, 1963: ‘Superblocos’ tower blocks. Horvat’s boundless curiosity informed his photography, and was married with a skillful eye for composition.

London UK, 1955: Mate and Jaguar in South Kensington. The model in the photo is Horvat's wife, Mate Lorenzetti, with whom he would go on to have three children.

London UK, 1955: Mate and Jaguar in South Kensington. The model in the photo is Horvat’s wife, Mate Lorenzetti, with whom he would go on to have three children.

New York, USA, 1961: Model with steam for Harper's Bazaar. Horvat became one of several photographers credited with freeing fashion photography from its stiffness in the 1950s and early 1960s, taking models out into the streets and shooting them in natural light.

New York, USA, 1961: Model with steam for Harper’s Bazaar. Horvat became one of several photographers credited with freeing fashion photography from its stiffness in the 1950s and early 1960s, taking models out into the streets and shooting them in natural light.

Paris, France, 1958: Fashion on the métro for Les Jardin Des Modes. Horvat persuaded models to ditch their false-eyelashes and part with some accessories - all too frequently butting heads with the fashion editors overseeing the shoots in the process.

Paris, France, 1958: Fashion on the métro for Les Jardin Des Modes. Horvat persuaded models to ditch their false-eyelashes and part with some accessories – all too frequently butting heads with the fashion editors overseeing the shoots in the process.

Paris, France, 1957: Tan Arnold at Les Halles for Le Jardin des Modes. Horvat shot women in real bars and restaurants, often catching the admiring glances of patrons in the background.

Paris, France, 1957: Tan Arnold at Les Halles for Le Jardin des Modes. Horvat shot women in real bars and restaurants, often catching the admiring glances of patrons in the background.

Paris, France, 1959: Anna Karina at Les Halles for Le Jardin de Modes. Horvat's daughter recalls an occasion when he took a pre-fame Anna Karina to pose in the old slaughterhouses of Les Halles, sending the magazine editor into a tizzy over the possibility that the beautiful dresses and shoes might be dirtied.

Paris, France, 1959: Anna Karina at Les Halles for Le Jardin de Modes. Horvat’s daughter recalls an occasion when he took a pre-fame Anna Karina to pose in the old slaughterhouses of Les Halles, sending the magazine editor into a tizzy over the possibility that the beautiful dresses and shoes might be dirtied.

Paris, France, 1959: Anna Karina at Les Halles for Le Jardin de Modes. Recalling her father's frequent clashes with fashion editors over shoots, his daughter Fiammetta said: 'He was at war with them'.

Paris, France, 1959: Anna Karina at Les Halles for Le Jardin de Modes. Recalling her father’s frequent clashes with fashion editors over shoots, his daughter Fiammetta said: ‘He was at war with them’.

Sauxillange, Auvergne, France, 1960: Agathe Daems and donkey for Elle. Animals and children - often Horvats own - were also roped in to photoshoots, anything to lend an element of spontaneity to the proceedings.

Sauxillange, Auvergne, France, 1960: Agathe Daems and donkey for Elle. Animals and children – often Horvats own – were also roped in to photoshoots, anything to lend an element of spontaneity to the proceedings.

Rome, Italy, 1962: Italian high fashion with Deborah Dixon on the Spanish Steps for Harper's Bazaar. Despite the opulent fashions of the 1950s Horvat brought elements of realism to his fashion work.

Rome, Italy, 1962: Italian high fashion with Deborah Dixon on the Spanish Steps for Harper’s Bazaar. Despite the opulent fashions of the 1950s Horvat brought elements of realism to his fashion work.

Yorkshire UK, 1961: Rosalind and children for British Vogue. Through his work in fashion, Horvat became a regular contributor to the likes of Harper's Bazaar, Les Jardin des Mondes, Elle and Vogue.

Yorkshire UK, 1961: Rosalind and children for British Vogue. Through his work in fashion, Horvat became a regular contributor to the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Les Jardin des Mondes, Elle and Vogue.

London, UK, 1959: Three children. Children feature heavily in Horvat's work from the UK, including in this black and white portrait.

London, UK, 1959: Three children. Children feature heavily in Horvat’s work from the UK, including in this black and white portrait.

Yorkshire UK, 1961: Rosalind and laundry for British Vogue. Washing blowing on the line creates an unusual backdrop for a fashion shoot of the time.

Yorkshire UK, 1961: Rosalind and laundry for British Vogue. Washing blowing on the line creates an unusual backdrop for a fashion shoot of the time.

Brighton, UK, 1960: Bathing girls. Horvat was always attempting to capture moments of spontaneity and many of his photos are imbued with humor.

Brighton, UK, 1960: Bathing girls. Horvat was always attempting to capture moments of spontaneity and many of his photos are imbued with humor.

Rome, Italy, 1962: Italian high fashion with Deborah Dixon eating spaghetti with writer Antero Piletti for Harper's Bazaar. Horvat preferred not to look at models' portfolios when casting, instead he would talk to the women over the phone and choose his models based on the sound of their voices.

Rome, Italy, 1962: Italian high fashion with Deborah Dixon eating spaghetti with writer Antero Piletti for Harper’s Bazaar. Horvat preferred not to look at models’ portfolios when casting, instead he would talk to the women over the phone and choose his models based on the sound of their voices.

Paris,France, 1974: Eiffel Tower for Stern shoes. While he was most strongly influenced by Cartier-Bresson, some of Horvat's images have an undeniably Surrealist feel.

Paris,France, 1974: Eiffel Tower for Stern shoes. While he was most strongly influenced by Cartier-Bresson, some of Horvat’s images have an undeniably Surrealist feel.

Paris, France, 1967: Cover for Harper's Bazaar. Throughout his life Horvat was a keen adopter of new technology. Once color photography and printing became available, he never returned to black and white.

Paris, France, 1967: Cover for Harper’s Bazaar. Throughout his life Horvat was a keen adopter of new technology. Once color photography and printing became available, he never returned to black and white.

New York, USA, 1959: In Central Park for Glamour. 'We feel when we look at [Horvat's fashion photographs] that [the models] are so elegant and so chic... They're much simpler,' his daughter Fiammetta said.

New York, USA, 1959: In Central Park for Glamour. ‘We feel when we look at [Horvat’s fashion photographs] that [the models] are so elegant and so chic… They’re much simpler,’ his daughter Fiammetta said.

Paris, France, 1958: Edith Piaf, singer, and Bruno Cocatrix, impresario, at her last performance at the Olympia. Horvat photographed a myriad of famous faces during his career.

Paris, France, 1958: Edith Piaf, singer, and Bruno Cocatrix, impresario, at her last performance at the Olympia. Horvat photographed a myriad of famous faces during his career.

New York, USA, 1963: Richard Avedon, photographer. Horvat often turned his lens on other celebrated photographers, including Avedon, who was the inspiration for Fred Astaire's character in the classic 1957 film Funny Face.

New York, USA, 1963: Richard Avedon, photographer. Horvat often turned his lens on other celebrated photographers, including Avedon, who was the inspiration for Fred Astaire’s character in the classic 1957 film Funny Face.

Paris, France, 1999: Helmut Newton, photographer. Later in life, Horvat decided to embark on a series of interviews with other prominent photographers whose work he admired, including Newton.

Paris, France, 1999: Helmut Newton, photographer. Later in life, Horvat decided to embark on a series of interviews with other prominent photographers whose work he admired, including Newton.

New York, USA, 1984: Balloons in the subway. By the 1970s, magazines were declining in popularity and number and Horvat was established enough to pick and choose commissions, freeing him up to work on his own projects, which included a series in New York City.

New York, USA, 1984: Balloons in the subway. By the 1970s, magazines were declining in popularity and number and Horvat was established enough to pick and choose commissions, freeing him up to work on his own projects, which included a series in New York City.

New York, USA, 1982: Subway at rush hour. New York was a city that fascinated and inspired Horvat for his entire life.

New York, USA, 1982: Subway at rush hour. New York was a city that fascinated and inspired Horvat for his entire life.

New York, USA 1985:  Street crossing with yellow cab. Horvat would carry out his projects in collaboration with museums and editors if possible, but if not, would head out on his own dime to pursue his interests.

New York, USA 1985:  Street crossing with yellow cab. Horvat would carry out his projects in collaboration with museums and editors if possible, but if not, would head out on his own dime to pursue his interests.

New York, USA, 1969: Suntan mirrors in Central Park. Horvat's daughter said he had a 'real love' for New York and its sense of freedom.

New York, USA, 1969: Suntan mirrors in Central Park. Horvat’s daughter said he had a ‘real love’ for New York and its sense of freedom.

New York, USA, 1983: Midtown Citycorp building. The grittiness of the city captured in Horvat's New York pictures is a world away from the black and white glamour of his Paris photography.

New York, USA, 1983: Midtown Citycorp building. The grittiness of the city captured in Horvat’s New York pictures is a world away from the black and white glamour of his Paris photography.

New York, USA, 1984: Upper West side red coat in front of the Central Savings Bank. Unlike many photographers, Horvat never became attached to a particular make or model of camera, happily picking up new technologies as they came along.

New York, USA, 1984: Upper West side red coat in front of the Central Savings Bank. Unlike many photographers, Horvat never became attached to a particular make or model of camera, happily picking up new technologies as they came along.

New York,USA, 1984: East Village wall with safety ladder. Horvat was a photographer who moved with the times, abandoning black and white photography entirely after color became commonplace and later casting off analogue shooting once digital photography emerged.

New York,USA, 1984: East Village wall with safety ladder. Horvat was a photographer who moved with the times, abandoning black and white photography entirely after color became commonplace and later casting off analogue shooting once digital photography emerged.

New York, USA, 1985: Little girl in the back of a car. Horvat took photographs almost ever day of his life, aside from a period of illness in which he thought he might lose his sight.

New York, USA, 1985: Little girl in the back of a car. Horvat took photographs almost ever day of his life, aside from a period of illness in which he thought he might lose his sight.

Reims, France, 1999: Watching the solar eclipse. This photo forms part of what is perhaps the most ambitious project of Horvat's later career.

Reims, France, 1999: Watching the solar eclipse. This photo forms part of what is perhaps the most ambitious project of Horvat’s later career.

Kiel, Germany, 1999: Hotel hall. In 1999, Horvat travelled throughout Europe to make a document of life on the continent the last year before the new millennium.

Kiel, Germany, 1999: Hotel hall. In 1999, Horvat travelled throughout Europe to make a document of life on the continent the last year before the new millennium.

Paris, France, 1999: Store under renovation on the Champs E¿lyse¿es. The photos in the 1999 series  vary from shots of friends to street scenes and still lifes taken in France, Italy, Germany, Greece.

Paris, France, 1999: Store under renovation on the Champs Élysées. The photos in the 1999 series  vary from shots of friends to street scenes and still lifes taken in France, Italy, Germany, Greece.

Paris, France, 1999: At the dentist, Dr. Dominique Boe¿s. Horvat spent 100 days on the road and shot 122-films-worth of photographs for the 1999 project, managing still to notice moments of magnificence in the mundane.

Paris, France, 1999: At the dentist, Dr. Dominique Boës. Horvat spent 100 days on the road and shot 122-films-worth of photographs for the 1999 project, managing still to notice moments of magnificence in the mundane.

Corfu, Greece, 1999: Telephone booth on the seaside. Horvat's enduring preoccupation with spontaneity is clear to see in the 1999 series, as in this image capturing the exact moment the wind blew the woman's skirt.

Corfu, Greece, 1999: Telephone booth on the seaside. Horvat’s enduring preoccupation with spontaneity is clear to see in the 1999 series, as in this image capturing the exact moment the wind blew the woman’s skirt.

Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 1999: Rubbish bag. Horvat attempted to capture daily life, snapping a wide range of subjects from the bazar to the banal.

Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 1999: Rubbish bag. Horvat attempted to capture daily life, snapping a wide range of subjects from the bazar to the banal.

Cotignac, France, 1999: La Ve¿ronique', self-portrait in the bathroom. Horvat even included the odd self-portrait in his 1999 series.

Cotignac, France, 1999: La Véronique’, self-portrait in the bathroom. Horvat even included the odd self-portrait in his 1999 series.

Senigallia, Italy, 1999: Mario Giacomelli, photographer, in his printing shop. Horvat sat down Giacomelli and many other photographs for a series of interviews on the meaning of their profession.

Senigallia, Italy, 1999: Mario Giacomelli, photographer, in his printing shop. Horvat sat down Giacomelli and many other photographs for a series of interviews on the meaning of their profession.

London UK, 1961: Simone D'Aillencourt with designer Hardy Amies, drinking tea, for British Vogue. Horvat railed against the stiffness of the fashion world, parodied to a degree in this image.

London UK, 1961: Simone D’Aillencourt with designer Hardy Amies, drinking tea, for British Vogue. Horvat railed against the stiffness of the fashion world, parodied to a degree in this image.

New York, USA, 1984: Father and child in the subway. Horvat captured images of a diverse range of subjects from around the world, starting in the late 1940s and continuing until his death last year.

New York, USA, 1984: Father and child in the subway. Horvat captured images of a diverse range of subjects from around the world, starting in the late 1940s and continuing until his death last year.

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