Born in Poland in 1942, Peter Berlin is a relative of the celebrated fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene (1900-1968). Raised in Germany, Berlin received post-secondary education as a photo-technician, and in his early 20s worked as a celebrity portraitist for German television. However, it was around this time that he curiously began designing and sewing his own skin-tight clothing which he would wear as he cruised the parks and train stations in Berlin, Rome, Paris, New York and San Francisco. After several long-term stays on the east coast of the United States, Peter Berlin eventually moved to San Francisco in 1969, and became a fixture on the steep streets with his signature look and perpetual posing. He soon began producing films and starred in the now iconic Nights in Black Leather (1973), co-directed by Richard Abel. Berlin then produced, directed, and starred in That Boy the following year, and made four shorter films through the mid to late 1970s, while publishing and selling his photographic self-portraits. Peter Berlin was the subject of several Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, three drawings by Tom of Finland, and at least one portrait by Andy Warhol, attesting to his worldwide celebrity.
In 2005 Jim Tushinski directed and co-produced That Man: Peter Berlin, which helped spawn a resurgence of interest in and appreciation for Berlin’s work. Berlin resides in San Francisco quietly today, where he is still frequently recognized on the sidewalks by his fans.
The exhibition is co-curated by Eric Smith and Mark Garrett.
On view through 10th October.