Frank Horvat, portrait photographer of women, dies aged 92

Frank Horvat shows one of his photographs in Lugano in 2011. He donated 96 of his photos to the city Keystone

Frank Horvat, a traveller, observer of fashion and taker of striking portraits of women, has died aged 92. He spent his formative teenage years in Switzerland, where he bought his first camera.

This content was published on October 22, 2020 - 15:37

Horvat was born in Abbazia, Italy (present day Opatija, Croatia) to Jewish parents who were doctors. In 1939, at the age of 11, he moved with his parents to the Swiss city of Lugano to escape fascism.

There he discovered and valued Ticino’s cultural diversity, he said in 2010 on winning an award in Lugano.

He continued his studies in Milan and travelled extensively for work, notably to Pakistan, India, Britain, the United States and France, where he settled at the end of the 1950s.

In Paris, where he died, he met French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1950. This meeting encouraged him to undertake a two-year trip to Asia as a freelance photojournalist.

By the 1960s he had gained international renown for his fashion photography, which was seen as renewing the genre, with a more realistic and less uptight style.

“I didn’t take pictures of war, misery, suffering or madness – 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,” he explained at the time. As for celebrities, “they are not part of my world”, he added.

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story