Frank Horvat



Frank Horvat (1928–2020) was an Italian photographer who lived and worked in France. He is best known for his fashion photography, published between the mid-1950s and the late 1980s. Horvat’s photographic opus includes photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, nature, and sculpture. He has collaborated with photographers including Don McCullin, Robert Doisneau, Sarah Moon, Helmut Newton, and Marc Riboud. In the 1990s, he was one of the first major photographers to experiment with technology including photoshop.
Horvat was born in Abbazia, Italy (now Opatija, Croatia), on 28 April 1928, into a Jewish family from Central Europe. His father, Karl, was a Hungarian general physician, and his mother, Adele, was a psychiatrist from Vienna. In 1939, at the age of 11, Horvat’s family moved to Lugano in Switzerland, fleeing fascism in Italy. He went on to study fine art at Brera Academy in Milan. Horvat lived in Switzerland, Italy, Pakistan, India, England, and America before settling in France in 1955.
Horvat started his career in the mid-1950s as a photojournalist in Paris, working to capture the “sleaze and squalor” of the city, before going on to fashion photography. He acknowledged having been strongly influenced by Cartier-Bresson and after meeting him in 1950, Horvat followed his advice and replaced his Rollei with a Leica camera and embarked on a two-year journey through Asia as a freelance photojournalist. His photographs from this trip were published by LIFE, Réalités, Match, Picture Post, Die Woche, and Revue. His photograph of an Indian bride under a veil, her face reflected in a mirror on her lap, was selected by Edward Steichen for The Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art which toured the world to be seen by nine-million visitors.
Upon arriving in Paris in 1955, Horvat found that the mood of its streets and its inhabitants had little in common with the somewhat romantic vision of the so-called humanist photographers. In 1957, Horvat shot fashion photographs for Jardin des Modes using a 35mm camera and available light, a setup that had rarely been used in fashion. This innovation was welcomed by ready-to-wear designers because it presented their creations in the context of everyday life. In the following years, Horvat was commissioned to do similar work for Elle in Paris, Vogue in London, and Harper’s Bazaar in New York.
Between 1962 and 1963, Horvat turned to photojournalism and took a trip around the world for the German magazine Revue. He would then experiment with cinema and video. In 1976, he decided to “become his own client” by producing three personal projects: Portraits of Trees (1976–82), Very Similar (1982-86) and New York Up and Down (1982–87), which he called his “triptych”.
In this period, Horvat shifted to colour photography, used in his series New York Up and Down, for which he shot portraits of passengers on the subway and of patrons of coffee shops. This was also the period when his eyesight started to fail from an eye disease. He began a new project, a series of interviews with fellow photographers, such as Edouard Boubat, Robert Doisneau, Mario Giacomelli, Josef Koudelka, Don McCullin, Sarah Moon, Helmut Newton, Marc Riboud, Jeanloup Sieff and Joel-Peter Witkin. They were published in France under the title Entre Vues.
In the 1990s, Horvat became interested in computer technology and produced Yao the Cat (1993), Bestiary (1994), and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1995). He transgressed the Cartier-Bressonian rule of the “decisive moment” by combining parts of images shot at different times and in different places. Several years later, he produced A Trip to Carrara. This was also the period that he was one of the first photographers to experiment with Photoshop.
Women played a central role in his fashion work, in which he strived for realism. Speaking about women in his photography Horvat said, “I was interested in women. I wanted to show what I liked about them. They would spend two hours in the makeup chair, and I’d try to get them to remove it so they’d look more natural.” In his own words, he kept away from pictures of war, disease, and suffering, “not out of indifference to these misfortunes, but because I feel neither the moral justification nor the physical courage to face such situations as a photographer.”
Horvat’s later projects were perhaps his most personal. 1999 is a photo diary of the last year of the millennium, shot with a tiny analogue camera designed for amateurs. Entre Vues and La Véronique were taken with the first digital Nikon within a 30-meter range, either inside his home in Provence or in its immediate surroundings. Eye at the Fingertips, which was started in 2006, was photographed with a digital compact camera. His latest enterprise was an iPad application called Horvatland, which contains more than 2,000 photos produced over the course of 65 years with ten hours of commentary.
In 2010, Horvat received the Fondazione del Centenario Award (Lugano, Switzerland) for his contribution to European culture. Horvat’s latest book, Side Walk, showcasing life in New York City in the 1980s, was published in 2020.

selected solo exhibitions

2020  New York Up & Down, In Camera Gallery, Paris
2020  Vraies Semblances, Lelong & Co Gallery, Paris
2020  Paris, années 50, Maison de la photographie Robert Doisneau, France
2019  La traversée de Paris, 70 ans de photographie, Espace Musées, Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France
2019  Maillol Horvat, Vila Casas Foundation, Barcelona
2019  House with Fifteen Keys, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow
2019  Frank Horvat’s Fashion, Leica Camera, Hong Kong
2018  Frank Horvat et ses contemporains, Vieille église St Vincent, Mérignac; Musée de la Photographie, Lille
2018  Please Don’t Smile, Museo Palau Solterra, Spain; In Camera Gallery, Paris
2018  Eighties New York, Fifty One Gallery, Antwerp
2018  Frank Horvat: Storia di un fotografo, Palazzo Chiablese, Turin
2018  Un moment d’une femme, Nexus Hall Chanel, Tokyo
2017  Horvatyear–Diptyques, Galerie Dina Vierny and Galerie Minautore, Paris
2017  Please don’t smile, Izzy Gallery, Toronto
2017  Frank Horvat, Galerie GADCOLLECTION, Paris
2016  Photos CON, Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris
2016  Please Don’t Smile, Fahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
2015  House with Fifteen Keys, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin
2014  House with Fifteen Keys, Palazzo Mediceo di Seravezza, Italy; Théâtre de La Photographie et de l’Image, Nice
2013  Les mains d’Horvat, Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris
2012  The iPad exhibition, Gallery Hiltawski, Berlin
2012  Trip to Carrara, Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris
2012  Retrospective, Brucie Collections, Kiev
2012  Trip to Carrara, Susanna Orlando Gallery, Forte Dei Marmi, Italy
2012  Fashion Photographs, Presentation House, Vancouver
2011  Vintage Prints, Birgit Filzmaier, Zurich
2011  No Repeat, CRAF, Spilimbergo, Italy
2010  Fashion Photographs, Manège Gallery, Saint-Petersburg
2010  Black and White Photographs / An Eye at the Fingertips, BSI Gallery, Lugano, Switzerland
2010  Black and White, Photographica Gallery, Lugano, Switzerland
2009  Black and White Photographs, Gallery Hiltawski, Berlin; Gallery Aplanat, Hamburg
2009  Very Similar, Gallery Hiltawski, Berlin; Gallery Aplanat, Hamburg
2009  De-bocche-tette-culi-cazzi-e-mone, Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris
2009  Gli anni del bianco e nero, Gallery Ersel, Torino
2008  Fashion Photographs, Artparis
2008  New York Up and Down, La-Maison-près-Bastille, Paris
2008  Ways of an Eye, Villa Tamaris, La Seyne, Var, France
2007  Romanesque Sculpture, La-Maison-près-Bastille, Paris
2007  Strip-Tease, Assolibri Gallery, Florence
2006  Black and White and Colour, Tristan’s Gallery, Cornwall
2006  Icônes et inédits, La-Maison-près-Bastille, Paris
2006  Retrospective Exhibition, Espace Landowski, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2006  Fashion Photographs, Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach, FL
2005  Photographs of the Sculptures by Robert Couturier, Musée Maillol, Paris
2005  La Véronique, Assolibri Gallery, Florence
2004  Archival Inkjet Prints, Wouter Van Leeuwen Gallery, Amsterdam
2004  Black and White Vintage Prints, Janos Gat Gallery, New York
2004  La Véronique, Nature and Landscape Festival, La Gacilly, France
2004  La Véronique, Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris
2003  Black and White Photographs, Fahey-Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
2003  Retrospective, Maison de la Photographie, Toulon, France
2003  Black and White Photographs, Jan Schlueter Gallery, Köln, Germany
2002  Homage to Catalonia, Vila Casas Foundation, Barcelona
2002  1999, a Daily Report, Janos Gat Gallery, New York
2002  Strip-Tease, Staley Wise Gallery, New York
2002  Black and White Photographs, Haeckelbury Fine Arts, London
2002  Vraies semblances, Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris
2002  Black and White Photographs, Fifty-one Fine Art Photography, Antwerp
2001  Strip-Tease, Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris
2000  Mini-Retrospective, Galerie Serge Aboucrat, Paris
2000  Very Similar, Jane Jackson Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2000  51 Photographs in Black and White, Galerie In Focus, Cologne
2000  Fashion Photographs, Sao Paolo, Brasil
2000  New York Up and Down, Stadtgalerie, Kiel, Germany
2000  51 Photographs in Black and White, Musée Régional des Centovalli, Intragna, Switzerland
2000  1999, a Daily Report / Paris Vintage, Musée Régional des Centovalli, Intragna, Switzerland
2000  51 Photographs in Black and White, Galleria Assolibri, Florence
1999  Goethe in Sicily, Casa di Goethe, Rome
1999  Horvat’s Bestiary, Zoological Museum in Kiel, Germany
1999  Very Similar, Hackelbury Fine Arts, London
1998  Goethe in Sicily, Goethe-Haus, Frankfurt
1998  51 Photographs in Black and White, Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris
1998  70 ans – 70 photos, Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris
1998  Vraies semblances, Institut Français, Valence
1998  51 Photographs in Black and White, Galeria Railowski, Valencia
1997  Frank Horvat, Photographie-Forum, Frankfurt; Institut Français, Prague; Institut Français, Bratislava
1997  Vintage Prints, Staley-Wise Gallery, New York
1997  High Fashion Photographs in Rome, for Harpers Bazaar, Galleria Acta International, Rome
1996  Fashion Photography, Fotofest, Houston, TX
1996  Paris-London, Musée Carnavalet, Paris
1995  Please Don’t Smile, Fashion Photos, Hamiltons, London; Staley Wise, New York; Carla Sozzani, Milan; Agathe Gaillard, Paris
1995  Le Bestiaire d’Horvat, Centro Krizia, Milan; Parc Régional de la Bresse, France
1994  Le Bestiaire d’Horvat, Centre National de la Photographie, Paris
1993  Fashion Photographs, Centre National de la Photographie, Paris
1993  Frank Horvat, Foto-folies, Rodez, France
1992  Digital Images, Galerie Pictorial, Paris
1991  Fashion Photographs, Vision Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1991  Retrospective, Galerie du Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse
1990  Vraies semblances, Fotofest, Houston, TX; French Institute, New York
1990  Retrospective, Folio Gallery, Calgary
1989  Fashion Photography, Prinz Gallery, Kyoto, Japan; Espace Paris-Audiovisuel, Paris; Festival de la Photographie de Mode, Trouville, France
1989  Album de famille, Comptoir de la Photographie, Paris
1988  Fashion Photography, Centre Culturel Français, Prague; Bell Commons Space, Tokyo
1988  Photographes et créateurs de mode, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
1987  Hommage à Ferrari, Fondation Cartier, Jouy-en-Josas, France
1986  Vraies semblances, Galleria Novecento, Palermo
1986  Sculptures by Rodin, at Centre Culturel, Verrières, France
1985  Photographies de mode, Centre d’Art Centemporain, Montbéliard, France
1985  Trees, Berlin-Neukölln, Germany
1984  Arbres, Centre Culturel, Toulon
1984  Fashion Photographs, Sander Gallery, New York
1983  Arbres, Maison de la Culture, Angoulème, France; La Chambre Claire, Paris
1983  Vraies semblances, Espace Canon, Paris
1982  Trees, personal exhibition, at National Museum, Malta
1981  30 années de bonheur, Galerie Mamiya, Paris
1981  Trees, Galleria Novecento, Palermo; Zeit Gallery, Tokyo
1980   Arbres, Artcurial Gallery, Paris
1980  30 Happy Years, Photographers Gallery, London
1979  Trees, ICP, New York
1978  Trees, Photographers Gallery, London
1977  Arbres, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Nantes


2020  Side Walk, Atelier EXB, Paris;  Hatje Cantz, Berlin
2016  Photographic autobiography, Hatje Cantz, Berlin
2015  Please Don’t Smile, Hatje Cantz, Berlin
2014  Maillot Horvat, Gallimard and Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris
2013  House of Fifteen Keys, Terre Bleue
2009  Masken und Mandarinen, OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2009  New York Up and Down, OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2009  Dr. Karl Horvat (About My Father), OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2009  Adele Edelstein (About My Mother), OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2008  De-bocche-tette-culi-cazzi-e-mone, OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2006  The Horvat Labyrinth, Éditions du Chêne, Hachette, Paris
2005  Horvat photographie Couturier, Gallimard and Musée Maillol, Paris
2004  La Véronique, Thirty Meters Around my House in Provence, OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2004  Time Machine – a Trip Around the World, 1962-1963, OFF Publications, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2002  Homenatge a Catalunya, Vila Casas Foundation, Barcelona
2001  Figures romanes, Éditions du Seuil, Paris
2000  1999: A Daily Report, Dewi Lewis, Manchester
2000  Frank Horvat, Photopoche no 88, Delpire et Nathan, Paris
1999  Very Similar, Dewi Lewis, Manchester
1998  51 Photographs in Black and White, Dewi Lewis, Manchester
1996  De la Mode et des Jardins, Éditions de l’Imprimerie Nationale, Paris
1996  Paris-Londres London-Paris, Éditions de la Ville de Paris
1994  Le Bestiaire d’Horvat, Actes Sud, Arles
1994  Arbres, Imprimerie nationale, Paris
1992  Yao le chat botté, Éditions Gautier-Languereau, Paris
1991  Degas sculptures, Imprimerie nationale, Paris
1990  Entre vues, Éditions Nathan, Paris
1982  Goethe in Sicilia, Edizioni Novecento, Palermo
1979  The Tree, Aurum Press, London; Little Brown, New York
1962  J’aime le strip-tease, Éditions Rencontre, Lausanne
1962  J’aime la télévision, Éditions Rencontre, Lausanne
1957  La capture des éléphants sauvages, Éditions Louvois, Paris