Artist and photographer Eric Boman, whose dexterity, ingenuity and charisma laid the foundation for a great – and fun – career, died on Thursday at the age of 76.
Boman died of pancreatic cancer at Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, New York. A small private anniversary is planned.
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The blonde and gregarious photographer not only captured the art, fashion and social scenes in London in the freewheeling 70s, but was also very much a central figure with co-creators during that time, as well as in the decades that followed. followed after he and his longtime partner, Peter Schlesinger, moved to New York in 1978.
Schlesinger, who has since married Boman, deferred comment Friday.
Their 51-year union brought together two artistic talents, as Schlesinger is a highly acclaimed artist and writer. Even their initial launch overseas blossomed from artistic roots. Years ago, Schlesinger was artist David Hockney’s boyfriend and muse at the time. According to a March Town & Country article, Boman and Schlesinger met in London in 1971 during a dinner at Mr. Chow, after the premiere of Luchino Visconti’s classic film “Death in Venice.” Paloma Picasso invited Boman and Manolo Blahnik, and Andy Warhol’s business partner Fred Hughes invited Hockney and Schlesinger. Hockney reportedly skipped the meeting, but Schlesinger attended and was mesmerized by “this beautiful boy [who] arrived at our table in a camel hair Ossie Clark coat. Fred didn’t realize the movie was that long, and we got a good start (and a lot of screwdrivers) before they arrived,” Schlesinger recalled in the article.
Initially a painter who studied at the Royal College of Art, Swedish-born Boman developed a career in fashion photography shooting for British Vogue, Harpers & Queen and the World of Interiors in London, Marie Claire in Paris and German Vogue . Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Paulina Porizkova were among the many models he photographed over the years.
With a repertoire that extended far beyond fashion, Boman’s talent for cooking, gardening and composition led to other jobs, including a slew of books. “Blahnik by Boman: Shoes, Photographs, Conversation,” “Dames: Women with Initiative and Attitude” and “Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel” were three Thames & Hudson published titles. (A large reprint of his photograph of Ivana Trump in a strapless dress and sunglasses that also appeared on the cover of “Ladies” was prominently displayed at her funeral last month.) Before his passing, Boman was at work on ‘ a memoir and another book about his photography.
Boman also had a razor-sharp wit, as evidenced by a quip he made to WWD during an Ossie Clark fashion show in 1973 at London’s Aretusa. Amid an air-kissing crowd that included famous friends like Bianca Jagger, Nicky Weymouth and Amanda Lear, Boman said of the “EI” initials embroidered on his shirt, “I haven’t done the ‘B’ yet. “
Whether in London or in New York, where Boman and Schlesinger put down roots in a downtown loft, each expanded creatively while also mingling with artists, writers and others, including Paloma Picasso, Blahnik and Warhol. Even before he switched from clips to photography, Boman took a Pentax camera with friends to represent them outside of hours. A 1972 illustration commission from Anna Wintour, then working at Harpers & Queen, led Boman to borrow Schlesinger’s camera to take his first photos for the magazine in 1972, according to the aforementioned Town & Country profile . Boman later branched out into editorial shoots for British Vogue and ventured into album cover art for Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, as well as others.
Wintour, chief content officer at Condé Nast and global editorial director at Vogue, said via email on Friday: “Eric was always so fun to be around. He had impeccable taste and was one of the true polymaths who could take up one thing after another: photography, design, art, and do it all beautifully. He could cook and then take a brilliant picture of the dish.”
She continued, “He was funny – wickedly so – and had an innate sense of beauty, and his still-life images for Vogue were both mischievous and classically beautiful. Who can forget the bunny stepping in a pot?” — referring to the photographer’s image of a stuffed rabbit with a carrot in a paw that ran alongside a Vogue article titled, “Is Rabbit the New Ethical Meat?”
Wintour said: “Spending time with Eric and Peter [Schlesinger] was a joy and I can’t believe he’s gone.”
On his “incredible style”, former American editor of German Vogue Rados Protic said on Friday: “When I came to the studio one day wearing a Saint Laurent floral printed skirt, he told me that he had designed the print when he lived in London in the 70s,” she said. “He also had a wicked sense of humor.”
In fact, a print Boman created for a crepe skirt in the 1973 summer Saint Laurent collection was so popular that WWD listed three “well-bred, artistically inclined” women who wore it at The Grosvenor House Antiques Fair among the showcased name “Them That Has”. .” Boman’s precise eye also guided his photography, as evidenced by his shot of Candice Bergen in a liquid gold mesh Versace sheath dress featured in “Gianni Versace — Dialogues de Mode.”
Vogue contributing editor Phyllis Posnick noted how Boman was interested in everything, be it art, history, antiques, flowers, food, cooking, fashion or magazines, which is right in line with Schlesinger, who was interested in and informed about many things. “He had an incredible eye, a sly sense of humor and a great wit. He saw through people. It was devastating to hear him sometimes — and funny,” she said of Boman. “I think he is underrated as a photographer. He saw each picture as a unique opportunity. He had so many interests. He didn’t just focus on one thing and he never became known for just one type of photo, like many photographers.”
Posnick explained: “He never sought fame or recognition, and it was never about the money. And he never sold out. He just wanted to take nice pictures of anything. We both loved cooking and he would send me pictures of ingredients and then he would send me pictures of the finished product. They were just beautiful. And then he sends me pictures of flowers he photographed while their garden is blooming in the spring. He just had to take pictures.”
Boman and Schlesinger’s second home on Long Island’s North Fork appeared in a 1993 issue of Vogue. Once the summer residence of financier Bernard Baruch, the couple reimagined it with design accents that included a Swedish bronze chandelier, a limed oak table, walnut chairs, opaline vases and Wedgwood plates. Some of Boman’s plates, dishes and places were featured in the books, adding not only a personal tie and a touch of glamour, but also a certain authenticity. Photos of Boman can also be found in another book, “Peter Schlesinger: A Photographic Memory 1968-1989.”
Gail Monaghan, a friend of Boman’s for more than 30 years, recalled him asking in the early 2000s if he could handle the photos for the Rizzoli cookbook “Just Desserts” she was writing. Not having delved into food photography, Boman wanted to give it a whirl. “I would never have dared to ask him to do it, and I couldn’t believe my luck when he volunteered,” she said. “In the end he also did the book design. I completely give him the success and certainly the beauty of the book. He was brilliant and demanding to work with and his perfectionism paid off.”
While Boman’s portfolio overflowed with fashion shoots, he also amassed a collection of personal work that he largely shelved as 35mm discs for 45 years. In 2016, some of those artistic images were shown for the first time in the book “Eric Boman: A Wandering Eye: Photographs 1975-2005”. The well-traveled lensman chose the pairings and sequences for the 1,000-page book. A shot of a glass merchant in Morocco is opposite an almost identical image of a copper merchant in Tunisia. In another pairing, a clean cut Swedish topiary faces a lush rainforest. Boman posted a photo of a sculptural memorial to a fallen soldier in Denmark with one of a deserted Caribbean island.
After collaborating with Boman on that project, book designer Miko McGinty said, “He had so many other stories to tell through his archives. His archives must be amazing. This, I know, was only the tip of the iceberg.”
McGinty praised the relationship he had with his subjects in “Ladies”. “You can see in the photos that Eric was really compelling and caring. These are all different types of women in the portraits – very powerful, very charismatic. But the photographs have a personal connection and a personal presence. You can see that they are a bit vulnerable. You can see they respond to Eric as the photographer – in the conversation, elegance, humor and connection. You can see the subjects had fun. They’re probably laughing and having an amazing conversation,” McGinty said.
In addition to her husband Schlesinger, Boman is survived by a younger brother, who lives in Sweden and whose name was not immediately known.
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