Photographs by Guy Bourdin

Image by Guy Bourdin 1978 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1978 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

At the heart of Guy Bourdin’s fashion photographs is a confrontation with the very nature of commercial image making. While conventional fashion images make beauty and clothing their central elements, Bourdin’s photographs offer a radical alternative.

In 2003 the V&A exhibited photographs by Guy Bourdin. Guy Bourdin presented fashion as the luxurious embellishment rather than the subject of his photographs. He magnified to centre stage dark fantasies of lust, consumption and desire. The fundamental significance of his photographs lies in Bourdin’s knowledge that it is not fashion but its image that seduces and fascinates us.

Guy Bourdin was at the height of his career from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s. The first room of the exhibition concentrated on these years, when Bourdin was working predominantly for French Vogue and Charles Jourdan shoes.  As well as photographs, the display included films that Bourdin made on fashion shoots.

Image by Guy Bourdin 1975 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1975 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1975 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1975 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

The photographs, slides and notebook pages that were on show in the second gallery are a record of the images that Guy Bourdin chased throughout his life. They offer an insight into the thousands of observations he made and his unrelenting capacity to shape his experiences into a visual form.

Although the print qualities, camera formats and locations change over time, the instinctive control that Bourdin exerted over his subject matter is repeatedly played out. Together, they are like his best fashion work – both brilliant and unsettling.

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Image by Guy Bourdin 1983 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2003

Written to accompany the exhibition Guy Bourdin

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Horst - Photographer of Style (Special Edition)||RLCTB

Horst - Photographer of Style (Special Edition)||RLCTB

This limited edition clothbound slipcase of 225 copies of Horst: Photographer of Style has been specially commissioned by Hamiltons Gallery in collabo…

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Event - A History of Photography: Series and Sequences

Fri 06 February 2015–Sun 01 November 2015

DISPLAY: Photographs draws upon the V&A’s internationally renowned collection, which chronicles the history of photography from the 1840s to the present day. In 1852, the V&A became the first museum in the UK to collect photographs and in 1858, the first to hold a photography exhibition.

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