Peter Knapp

Biographical Data

Born in Bärteswil, Switzerland, in 1931. He lives and works in Paris. Peter Knapp studies graphic design and photography at the Zurich Design School and, later, in Paris, architecture at the Beaux Art School and drawing at the Julian Academy. He moves to Paris in 1952. His first individual exhibition takes place in 1957. He starts working as a fashion photographer in 1959 and is the artistic director of Elle (1960-1966; 1974-1977). In 1975 he puts fashion photography aside and participates in the exhibition La Photographie et l’art contemporain. At the same time he works for television making films such as Dim Dam Dom, 1965-1970; De Bach à Bartok, 1996-1998; Vincent Van Gogh, les derniers jours à Auvers, 2006; he works as a graphic designer and typographer for the press and teaches graphic design.

Brief Chronology

Peter Knapp paints materic, abstract canvases until 1966 when he consecrates himself to photography: “For me it’s impossible to think at the same time of the instant and the duration. From the moment I began to think photographically, I wasn’t able to paint anymore”. He works on series of photographic projections using the Swiss flag. Later, he will concentrate on the idea of infinity: space, horizon, clouds, plane trails, ship wakes, the sea, blue skies (Il fait beau, 1975). He takes pictures of nature, landscapes, objects (Les Choses, 1974), often presenting them as collages (Flüela Pass, 1980). In the 80’s, he adds to his collection portraits, body images, either scratched, scraped, erased… sometimes accompanied with text (Les Cris, 1990; Les Hommes de Bayonne, 1990; Expériences, 2002-2007). He also creates videos (Négatif/Positif, 2000; Minuit à Fécamp, 2002) and installations (Puits de lumière, 2005).



Porte de Sansa, 1987, Ilfochrome print, 220 x 132 cm / 86,6 x 51,9 in.


Pneus à Arles (1991), limited print, 50 x 40 cm / 19,6 x 15,7 in