Guy Bourdin: The Portraits
2 April 2016 – 30 April 2016
Studio Des Acacias, Paris, France
Studio des Acacias has hosted major photographers and artists including Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Guy Bourdin. Now a creative space dedicated to all forms of artistic expressions, Guy Bourdin: The Portraits will revisit Studio des Acacias’ origins as a photography studio. The exhibition will feature over 100 works by Guy Bourdin from the early 1950s to the late 1980s, showcasing both little-known early material as well as some of his most mythic and enduring images.
The exhibition, entitled Guy Bourdin: The Portraits traces the influence of Surrealism in Guy Bourdin’s work. Influenced by his close relationship with the artist Man Ray, Guy Bourdin’s early portraiture displays the origins of the uniquely Surrealist visual language that would eventually become part of his signature style.
These early portraits are captured from his first pictorial layouts, such as ‘Chapeaux Choc’ – Vogue Paris and Artists’ portraits – Nouveau Femina. Both were published in February 1955 and present the clarity of is vision. This exhibition highlights Guy Bourdin’s artistic fascination with sharp graphic compositions, concepts, croppings and a narrative cinematic portraiture.
Guy Bourdin’s “A Portrait to the City” (1950-1955) was a unique experimental body of work and a visual account of post Second World War Paris. Documented in a series of brown paper postal envelopes, each envelope included a negative and a corresponding black and white cropped print. This largely unexamined body of work includes images that were untouched for over 50 years. This unique project reflects Guy Bourdin’s broad visual interests outside of commercial photography.
Vanishing points, unusual perspectives, textured surfaces dappled with shadows, capturing people he encountered on the streets of Paris, Guy Bourdin pushed the act of photography beyond documentation using the camera to capture unique perspectives through his unconventional manipulations of the picture plane.
Concluding the journey through Guy Bourdin’s forty-year artistic pursuits are the distinctive color editorial and advertising imagery which represent a highpoint in late 20th century fashion photography. His mysterious, hypnotic and surreal fashion photography made him a key contributor to French Vogue from 1955 to 1987. Pushing the boundaries of fashion photography, he presented bold and engaging images with a unique contemporary aesthetic.
Curated by Shelly Verthime, the exhibition features early photographs in black and white that serve to challenge Guy Bourdin’s reputation as a color photographer. This is complimented by a range of Guy Bourdin’s color double-page spreads created for Vogue Paris. It also highlights Guy Bourdin as a pioneer of fashion film, showcasing personal Super-8 films he made at the same time as his photo-shoots.
Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) was first and foremost an innovative image-maker who never ceased to learn and explore from his early portraits to his later commercial work, where the figure is Integral to the image but always remaining secondary. Today his works remain as fresh and modern as when they were first produced.
The finality of his work was to express himself by pushing his creative boundaries. Guy Bourdin: The Portraits will therefore be the most personal in-depth public exhibition staged in Paris since his death in 1991.
The Paris exhibition coincides with the London opening of Guy Bourdin: The Modern Eye, presenting twenty-seven early works acquired by and for the Tate Modern permanent collection. The Tate Modern exhibition runs until 31 August 2017.