Michael Montfort – More Than Just the Man Who Shot Bukowski

Michael Montfort (1940 – 2008)

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Sale 541, Lot 77. Estimate $500/800

Photographer Michael Montfort was best known for capturing the essence of Charles Bukowski, the prolific German-born American writer who wasgreatly influenced by the urban life in Los Angeles. Bukowski, known to be difficult with people, was even more so with photographers. However, needing a photo for a cover story in a German literary magazine, Montfort brought a case of wine to his initial meeting with the iconic author. After a few drinks, Montfort was able to get what he needed and in the process made a life-long friend and drinking buddy. Their friendship allowed Montfort to capture the essence of Bukowski in thousands of images and resulted in collaborations such as Horsemeat, Shakespeare Never Did This and The Wedding. Montfort also published a few volumes of his photographs of Bukowski.

As a photojournalist, Montfort’s body of work was much more than just covering Bukowski. Amongst the eccentric greats he was able to capture on film were writer William S.Burroughs, American rock band, The Doors and in particular singer-songwriter and poet, Jim Morrison, and German actor, Klaus Kinski. Some of the photographs of Kinski included his second wife Brigitte Tocki and their young daughter, Nastassja, who would later become known for her own famous photograph.

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Sale 541, Lot 78. Estimate $400/600

Other work from his archive include collections of photographs of Rock and Roll icons, Jazz greats, and French actress-model Brigitte Bardot. In addition, he documented the 1965 visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Germany, Israel and Egypt in the days following the Six Day War in June 1967, Expo 67 in Montreal and the 1968 Paris stricks and riots.

Montfort was born in Freiburg, Germany in 1940. He worked as a photojournalist on the staff of major German magazines – Stern, Quick, Bid am Sonntag – in Hamburg and Munich. He moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to become a free-lance photographer and spent many years there before returning to Germany by way of Prague.