Untouched unveils a compelling narrative regarding Guy Bourdin’s formative years. Painstakingly salvaged and dusted down, sorted and examined as the precious archaeological fragments that they are, these photographs illuminate the crucial first years of Bourdin’s image making.
Shelly Verthime, curator of The Guy Bourdin Estate and Editor of Untouched recounts the process of discovery: ‘A yellow Kodak Box, a treasure found in the archive, filled with a series of brown paper envelopes that each contained a negative and with a corresponding contact print taped to the outside, often with cropping guides. Untouched for fifty years were rare, intimate, personal, and authentic reflections of Guy Bourdin’s broad visual interests before he started his commercial career as a photographer.
What are we being shown? What do we see? Sometimes it is at first difficult to tell, since the subjects can appear so unassuming. Yet here is his poetic portrait of Paris, a subtle visual research, questioning reality, playing with the viewer’s gaze, like the Surrealists and the artists of the Subjective Photography School who so inspired him The experiments are endless; these images, many of which were presented in his early exhibitions, are the studies that provided the structure for Guy Bourdin’s future artistic signature.
Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) was a self-taught photographer who lived and worked in Paris. His career spanned over three decades, from the early 1950s to the late 80s, most famously shooting for French Vogue and for Charles Jourdan. His legacy is celebrated worldwide and his work has been shown in numerous museums, notably Tate Modern and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the National Museum of China, Beijing, and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
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