Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism

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Campaign for Charles Jourdan, California, 1975. Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin is a revolutionary in the world of fashion photography. He created a new visual language. Inspired by post-war pop culture, Hitchcock’s psychodrama, hyperrealist, and surrealist artists, he has run lavish advertising campaigns that look like mysterious stories. Shoes and clothes in them were no longer presented as a fashionable product, but as part of mystical, carefully staged scenes.

Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism
French Vogue, May 1977. By Guy Bourdin

The controversial experimenter, exploiter, humorist, perfectionist, pioneer, surrealist, and theatergoer – it’s all about him, about Guy Bourdin, a French photographer born in 1928 in Paris. In his youth, he thoroughly studied painting and considered becoming an artist. But after military service as an Air Force aerial photographer, he returned to Paris and took a job as a lens salesman. Bourdain continued to paint and began taking photographs.

Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism
Charles Jourdan, 1977
Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism
Charles Jourdan, 1977
Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism
Vogue Paris, December 1969

In 1950, he plunged into the world of surrealism under the influence of the artist Man Ray, and five years later, Vogue Paris published the first fashion shots of the aspiring photographer. As a result, Bourdin became one of the most artistic and famous photographers of this magazine and continued to work with him until 1987. At the same time, the photographer filmed advertising campaigns for such fashion brands as Charles Jourdan, Chanel, Versace, Bloomingdale’s, etc. In addition to Vogue, he collaborated with the famous publishing house Harper’s Bazaar.

Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism
French Vogue, 1976

Bourdin’s works challenged the curiosity and imagination of the viewer. Moreover, they entertain and intrigue the public today. He showed that commercial photography could be conceptual, sensual, and disturbing. Although the photographer incurred accusations of dubious attitudes towards women and their objectification in pursuit of a perfect artistic image, one thing is certain – Bourdin wanted to convey an alternative point of view. However, he left the viewers the right to come to their own conclusion.

Guy Bourdain. Fashion photography with psychodrama and surrealism
Roland Pierre, ad campaign, 1983

Bourdin completely changed the concept of female beauty and glossy photography. He is deservedly recognized as the outstanding fashion photographer of the 20th century.

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