Photographer Profile ~ Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin was a key player In the transformation of fashion photography from being about the product to emphatically being about the image. He was one of the most daring visual artists of the 20th century.

In the late 1940s Edward Weston’s photograph of a pepper showed Bourdin that photography could be art. He was also inspired by the monumental landscapes of Ansel Adams and developed a friendship with the dada painter and photographer Man Ray. It was undoubtedly through Man Ray that Bourdin became acquainted with surrealism, which was to infuse his photography throughout his life.

Bourdin was the first photographer to create a complex narrative, then snatch a moment — sensual, provocative, shocking, exotic, surrealistic, sometimes sinister — and simply associate it with a fashion item. The narratives were strange and mysterious, sometimes full of violence, sexuality, and surrealism.

Portrait of Bourdin

Eccentricities of Bourdin include: his insistence on working with people born under certain star signs; his use of sleeping pills in order to dream for long periods; and his arrival at French Vogue's offices on a camel.

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