|Peter Basch was born in Berlin, the son of Austrian parents well known in the German film industry. In 1933 the family emigrated to the United States, settling first in New York and later Los Angeles. In New York, Basch attended De Witt Clinton High School. After the move to Los Angeles, he was sent to school in England. Upon returning to the United States, he joined the army and worked in the First Army Motion Picture Unit (FAMPU) as a “script boy.” The FAMPU was the film production unit of the US Army Air Forces and made 400 propaganda and training films working with Hollywood stars such as Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable. Basch also worked for the Austrian film and theater director G.W. Pabst, who helped “discover” Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr and Louise Brooks. He assisted Hungarian portrait photographer Laszlo Willinger, known for his dramatic Hollywood portraits. In 1945 Basch moved to New York, and soon became one of the foremost magazine photographers. His photographs of Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, and Jane Fonda (among others) portrayed them as sexually independent young women in keeping with the optimism and prosperity of 1950-60s America and the influence of picture magazines such as Life and Look in the United States and Stern and Paris Match in Europe. Basch also made informal nude photographs of models and well known actresses. His beautiful, sometimes playful images similarly exhibited this new youthful feminine ideal.
Best known for his celebrity portraits and editorial work, Basch published several books and manuals over the course of his career. He passed away in 2004, following the success of a German publication, Stars, a collection of his photographs from the 1950s and 60s. Peter Basch’s photographs are in several private and public collections in the United States and Europe.
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