Guy Bourdin: Image maker

French fashion photographer and artist Guy Bourdin rose to fame in the 1970s for his provocative work. His first major retrospective in the UK, Guy Bourdin: Image-Maker at Somerset House, sets out to capture the 40-year career of this enigmatic creative from Man Ray’s protégé to famed photographer.

In Bourdin’s fashion photography the product is secondary to the image. He almost decorates the space around his models – his images are concerned with this backdrop, the stage.

The stills are meticulously choreographed. There is a perceived narrative, creating tension between the subject and the backdrop. This, combined with his brilliant use of vivid almost hyperreal colours, makes for a fantastically theatrical impact that is at once stylish and playful… and in some cases pretty evocative.


The show exhibits many previously unpublished works from his 1955 to 1987 editorial and advertising fashion shoots for Vogue and Charles Jourdan, as well as rarely seen paintings and sketches.

Guy Bourdin: Image-Maker is at Somerset House in London until 15 March 2015

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