A groundbreaking image-maker, Guy Bourdin is undoubtedly one of the most influential fashion and advertising photographers of the second half of the twentieth century. Inspired by Surrealism, and specifically the work of American avant-garde pioneer Man Ray, with whom he became a protégé, Bourdin set the stage for a new kind of fashion photography that wasn’t afraid to shock audiences.
Largely self-taught, the French conceptual photographer’s work broke from tradition, with imagery that was intense, hypnotic, and controversial. With a willingness to confront ideas of sexual exploitation and female agency in his work, Bourdin’s fashion shoots exposed the true and unnerving nature of desire that consumed the post-war decades in the West. Even today, Bourdin’s images continue to have the power to entertain and intrigue, to offend or upset, and cause audiences to question their reactions. With such enduring appeal, it’s no wonder that Bourdin’s work is frequently exhibited.
With a storied career spanning over three decades, Bourdin played an integral part of Vogue Paris from 1955 up until his death in 1991, where he produced a plethora of iconic images. By the 1960s, he became one of the most praised photographers in the magazine and was allowed total artistic freedom.
Above all an artist and an inventor, it was arguably Bourdin’s campaigns for the French luxury shoe label Charles Jourdan that brought him the attention of the wider public, a successful collaboration that would last for more than fifteens years beginning in 1967.
Unlike any previous shoe advertisements, Bourdin made radical changes both in the style and the meaning of commercial imagery. His work rejected the typical product shot. Instead, he favoured atmospheric, often surreal scenes where the shoes seemed an afterthought, an almost insignificant element in the larger narrative.
With the surrealist photographer’s work currently on exhibit at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin until May 13, 2018, Assouline Publishing has assembled an incredible, extensive selection of Bourdin’s iconic images, as well as never-before-seen Vogue layouts, Polaroids, and paintings into a 260-page tome, Guy Bourdin: Image Maker. With an introduction by Shelly Verthime, a cultural Historian and curator of the Guy Bourdin Estate, and text by Matthias Harder, curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation, the eye-catching hardcover showcases over 150 photographs and 4 illustrations — a true showpiece in our books.