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Guy Bourdin

French Photographer | Born: 1928 - Died: 1991
Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) was born in Paris.

A painter his entire life and a self-taught photographer, he was working for magazines, such as Vogue as well as for brands such as Chanel, Ungaro and Charles Jourdan. He exhibited his first photographies at Galerie 29 in 1952. Nowadays his work has been exhibited in the most prestigious museums, such as The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Jeu de Paume, 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.

Guy Bourdin's career spanned more than forty years during which time he worked for the world's leading fashion houses and magazines. With the eye of a painter, Guy Bourdin created images that contained fascinating stories, compositions, both in B&W and in colors. 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 used the format of the double spread magazine page in the most inventive way. He tailored his compositions to the constraints of the printed page both conceptually and graphically, and the mirror motif so central in his work finds its formal counterpart in the doubleness of the magazine spread. Layout and design become powerful metaphors for the photographic medium, engaging the eye and with it, the mind. While on the one hand employing formal elements of composition, Guy Bourdin, on the other hand, sought to transcend the reality of the photographic medium with surreal twists to the apparent subject of his images and his unconventional manipulation of the picture plane. Given total creative freedom and with uncompromising artistic ethic, Guy Bourdin captured the imagination of a whole generation at the late 1970s, recognised as the highest note in his career.

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.

Guy Bourdin irreverently swept away all the standards of beauty, conventional morals and product portrayals in one fell swoop. Around the female body he constructed visual disruptions, the outrageous, the hair-raising, the indiscreet, the ugly, the doomed, the fragmentary and the absent, torsos and death - all the tension and the entire gamut of what lies beyond the aesthetic and the moral,« explains the exhibition's curator Ingo Taubhorn. Bourdin investigates in minute detail the variables of fashion photography, from brash posing to subtle performances and from complex settings to novel and disturbing notions of images.

Guy Bourdin was among the first to imagine fashion photographies that contained fascinating narratives, dramatic effects with intense color saturation, hyper-realism and cropped compositions while he established the idea that the product is secondary to the image. A fan of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Macguffin' technique - an inanimate object catalyzing the plot - the photographer constructed 'crime scenes', getting rid of all usual standards of beauty and morals while his images demanded cerebral responses. When such photographers as David Bailey, in the 1960s, produced fantasy images of the girl-next-door, Guy Bourdin captured the atmosphere of the 1970s with sharp humor, erotism and outrageous femininity. Collaborating with Issey Miyake, Chanel or Emmanuel Ungaro, it was his work for the shoe label, Charles Jourdan, that brought him the attention of a wider public. With the campaign, Guy Bourdin dared to barely show the product and turned the shoe into a trivial element of a theatrical mise-en-scène that enhanced sex and bad taste.

Guy Bourdin's imagery not only changed the course of fashion photography but influenced a host of contemporary artists, photographers and filmmakers. It is without question, that Guy Bourdin's work for Vogue and his highly acclaimed print advertising for Charles Jourdan in the 1970s are now being seen in the appropriate context of contemporary art.
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Author: Guy Bourdin
Publisher: Assouline Publishing
Year: 2017 - Pages: 375
Protégé of Man Ray, principal photographer of Vogue France, inspiration for the fashion world’s favorite photographers, and immortalized in the collections of museums around the world, Guy Bourdin irrevocably changed the face of modern photography. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is an exploration of the photographer’s iconic imagery, featuring archival material yet unpublished, including original, never-before-seen Vogue layouts, hand-clipped and annotated layouts, Polaroids, and paintings.
 
Guy Bourdin: Untouched
Author: Guy Bourdin
Publisher: Steidl
Year: 2017 - Pages: 300
Intriguing, revolutionary and undoubtedly one of the most influential fashion photographers of the twentieth century, Guy Bourdin was a groundbreaking image-maker, whose work has achieved a cultlike following. His striking use of color, suggestive narratives and surrealist aesthetics established a visual language entirely his own. Though best known for his color images, Bourdin launched his career in black and white in the early 1950s. Untouched explores this largely unseen work and gives insight into the early development of his photographic eye. The carefully constructed images, initially conceived as an exhibition series, reveal his artistic motivation years before he began working on assignments for French Vogue and Photo Femina. In both concept and composition, these photographs display his fascination with striking graphic layouts and narrative cinematic portraiture. Capturing people he encountered on the streets of Paris, Bourdin trained his eye to transcend the realism of the medium, developing a unique perspective through unconventional manipulations of the picture plane.
 
A Message for You
Author: Guy Bourdin
Publisher: Steidl
Year: 2015 - Pages: 320
With the eye of a painter Guy Bourdin created images containing fascinating stories, compositions and colours. Using fashion photography as his medium, Bourdin explored the provocative and the sublime with a relentless perfectionism and sharp humour. Famed for his suggestive narratives and surreal aesthetics, Bourdin radically broke conventions of commercial photography and in the process captured the imagination of a generation. The late 1970s, recognised as the high note of his career, is the focal point of this new edition, which combines in one book the two volumes of the original 2006 publication. The first part of A Message for You shows the legendary, nearly forgotten images and rarely seen variants of a single model, Nicolle Meyer. She appeared in over thirty of Bourdin's famous campaigns for Charles Jourdan and in iconic French Vogue editorials. The second part of the book explores Bourdin's pictorial landscape, a collage of images that maps his artistic vision. The texts, Polaroids, poems, sketches and contact sheets unfold through Nicolle Meyer's memories and capture moments of Bourdin's work in progress.
 
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