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Twentieth-Century Man, Christopher Wallace

On the life of Peter Beard – the artist, wildlife photographer, wildlife advocate, wealthy, pompous, extremely attractive, drug addict. He embodied the extremes of the time. An adventurer, partier, with women models at his beacon call, waiting attentively at his feet for his next word, movement, and hopefully, attention. If existentialism is the idea that you are what you do, Peter was a good example of that – a man of action and romantic adventurer, whose art helped change the way we looked at the world. He believed that humans had reached this tipping point and would consume our way to starvation and extinction. He helped with that – flying private everywhere, consuming and vagabonding around the globe at a moment’s whim.  There is a message in his artwork – a fatalistic howl that very shortly our doom is imminent. He imagined himself to be the central character of an adventure novel and then led the protagonist’s life as he’d imagined it.  He went out the same way… taking a walk off near his property in Montauk in 2020. He was found dead 19 days later by a hunter in the woods. When everything gets too crazy, too confusing, too overwhelming, it is our natural tendency to dream about unwinding it all, about a life free from concerns that we deal with in our superconnected, hyper-digital lives. That’s what Peter reminds us we need to break free.


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