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Portfolio #2, 2023
Born in France in 1928, Guy Bourdin is best known for his highly experimental photography. Predominantly working in colour Bourdin was a key contributor to French Vogue from 1955 to end of the 80’s, pushing the boundaries of fashion photography, presenting bold often provocative images with a unique contemporary aesthetic.
With the eye of a painter, Guy Bourdin created images that contained fascinating stories, compositions, both in B&W and in colours. He was among the 1st to create images with narratives, telling stories and shows that the image is more important than the product which is displayed. Using fashion photography as his medium, he sent out his message, one that was difficult to decode, exploring the realms between the absurd and the sublime. Famed for his suggestive narratives and surreal aesthetics, he radically broke conventions of commercial photography with a relentless perfectionism and sharp humor. Guy Bourdin was an image maker, a perfectionist.
He knew how to grab the attention of the viewer and left nothing to chance. He created impeccable sets, or when not shooting in his studio rue des Ecouffes in le Marais, in undistinguished bedrooms, on the beach, in nature, or in urban landscapes. The unusual dramas that unfold in these seemingly everyday scenes and ordinary encounters pique our subconscious and invite our imagination. Moreover, he developed a technic using hyper real colours, meticulous compositions of cropped elements such as low skies with high grounds and the interplay of light and shadows as well as the unique make-up of the models.
His work has been exhibited in the most prestigious museums, such as The Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, The Jeu de Paume, The Getty Museum, The National Art Museum of China, The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and The Moscow House of Photography. His oeuvres is part of the collection of many prestigious institutions such as the MoMA in New York, The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, SFMOMA in San Francisco and the collection of the V&A among others.
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Ad Campaign, Charles Jourdan, 1975
Ad Campaign, Charles Jourdan, 1970
Ad Campaign, Charles Jourdan, 1978
Ad Campaign, Charles Jourdan, 1977
Ad Campaign, Charles Jourdan, 1968
Ad Campaign, Charles Jourdan, 1978
In the second half of the 20th century, French photographer Guy Bourdin amassed one of the most enduring visual legacies in fashion photography.
As a leading photographer for Vogue and other top fashion magazines, the artist spent decades cultivating a provocative and radical vision that continues to manifest to this day in the work of contemporary practitioners. It should be noted that it’s exceedingly rare that the work of a fashion photographer crosses into the realm of fine art, which is notable when we consider that Bourdin’s prints grace the halls of globally renowned collections such as Tate, MoMA, The Getty and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among many others.
In Bourdin’s photographs we find playgrounds for the eye to explore. Bursts of highly saturated color and playful compositional arrangements went firmly against the grain of the work produced by his contemporaries. While the principal goal of the fashion photographer was to make their subject appear beautiful and elegant, Bourdin sought to make the photographs themselves fashionable and to create a type of image that held its own modicum of desire to have, to own and to show off.
Bourdin’s practice was one that made up its own rules while exploring the arenas of Surrealism, theatricality, absurdism and sublimity. To the extent that a photographer’s job is to show viewers interpretations of the world, Bourdin’s pictures crafted worlds in which there was no such thing as ordinary.
Press + Articles
Inside the surreal world of Guy Bourdin
The Guardian (article)
Guy Bourdin’s Work Stands the Test of Time
The New York Times Magazine (article)