Friday, August 24, 2012

Masters of Photography: Guy Bourdin | 1928-1991

Guy Bourdin Archives, January 1978 © Guy Bourdin, Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery

Guy Bourdin - one of the most influential fashion photographers of all times has been an inspiration source ever since he started publishing his erotically-charged but equally disruptive work to the world. Bourdin had a distinct approach - his images reflected not fashion itself, but the fantasy it represented;touching the psychological strings of his public, he intrigued and seduced to addiction.

Sadist or a genius?

I don't think he would mind being associated with both. His surreal work turned every image into a masterpiece that elegantly slides on the sharp blade, juxtaposing art and fashion, sex and violence, glamour and horror.

Guy Bourdin | Roland Pierre advertisement, 1983

Guy Bourdin | Vogue 1977, Paris

Guy Bourdin | Vogue 1977, Paris

In the 70s Guy Bourdin created one of the most iconic fashion campaigns of all 
times - that of shoe designer Charles Jourdan. Nevertheless, he never fitted in the category "commercial photographer" for his genius took him way beyond any attempts to be placed and tagged in a box of matches. A pioneer eager to explore the virgin territories of fine art photography, Guy led the way by pushing boundaries and ruining down the walls of "acceptability".

Guy Bourdin | Charles Jourdan  advertisement, 1979

Guy Bourdin | Charles Jourdan  advertisement, 1979

Guy Bourdin | Charles Jourdan  advertisement, 1979

Guy Bourdin | Charles Jourdan  advertisement, 1975

Guy Bourdin | Vogue Paris, 1955

At the age of 27, he was offered a job at french Vogue. The picture on the left is part of his debut work, featuring a woman in haute couture posing alongside butchered cow heads. It is this image that marked out his signature style as an artist. From the mid 50s until the 80s he was mostly recognized for his Vogue editorials.        

He would often ask his models to pose in uncommon positions. What you might not know about him: Guy was a short man with an apparently whiny voice. He was incredibly demanding and treated his models with cruelty.


His mother abandoned him as an infant, his first wife is thought to have committed suicide and his second hanged herself.

In 2001 his son Samuel Bourdin released a book with the finest prints of his father's work, called "Exhibit A". 
After the launch of Madonnas video "Hollywood" Samuel brought a lawsuit against her for copyright infringement. The queen of pop has been highly influenced by his imagery copying a lot of scenes directly from his photographs.


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