MUSTANGS. Photographs by Manfred Baumann His exhibition Mustangs will be shown at Hall 50 of the NHM Vienna until 11 February 2018. With Mustangs, the star photographer broke new ground. He travelled to Nevada (USA), so as to devote himself to animal photography and tell the story of the free-roaming horses there.
In 1900, there were still around 2 million mustangs. Ever since then their numbers have been sharply dwindling, and since 1971 their number has been monitored by the Bureau of Land Management. Most of them live in the desert plains of Nevada. But thanks to their resilience and stamina they could live almost anywhere in the USA where humans would let them. At present, the number of free-roaming mustangs is said to be 32,000 conflicts with financial investors and other land users are alas pre-programmed.
Like any other native horses, the mustangs are descended from the wild horse, whose evolutionary history is not yet fully understood. It is known, however, that mustangs are closely related to both the Przewalskis horse, which is still found in Central Asia today, and to the tarpan which lived in Eastern Europe and became extinct around 1900. A large part of the evolution of horses took place in North America, from where they spread to Eurasia in waves over the past 50 million years. The wild horse died out in North America at the end of the last Ice Age. Its domesticated descendants, the ancestors of todays mustangs, were transported to America only in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadores.
Ever since, mustangs have become part and parcel of the American myth and the American dream. They carried people across the continent to war, to new shores or to their doom. They were needed and exploited, abused, brutalised, shot, but also venerated and loved. They look at us with curiosity and trust, and they deserve our protection.
In 2002, Manfred Baumann started photographing celebrities. In 2005, he arranged a photo-shoot with Roger Moore, followed by portrait sessions with Tony Curtis, David Hasselhoff, John Malkovich, Kathleen Turner, Bruce Willis, Angelina Jolie and many other stars and international top models. In 2013, he began work for the National Geographic Society and published a picture volume with landscape and travel photography. Since 2016, he has been under contract to Leica.
Manfred Baumann lives and works in Austria and the USA. He is a vegetarian, supports a variety of animal protection organisations and is Jane Goodall Goodwill Ambassador.