A few months back, I took myself off to wander the gallery space of the much hyped Guy Bourdin: Image Maker exhibition at Somerset House. Apologies it's taken me this long to share my review - I'm not really sure where the end of last year went - but the good news is the exhibit is open for another month and a half so plenty of time yet to get yourself down there. Before I share my snaps and thoughts in full, to summarise, it's 100%, cross my heart and hope to die, well worth a weekend peek and at £9 a ticket it would be rude not to! Bold, colourful and provocative, oozing sex appeal and desire, I promise you, you'll be captivated as soon as you step though those detail drenched Somerset House doors.
Guy Bourdin (1928-1991)
Who was Guy? There's no short answer to that question but if I were to try and capture in one sentence, I would say ... A French photographer who transformed fashion and commercial photography in the 70s by turning the basic function of photography, in the advertising world, on it's head. Many thought photography was the means to conjure desire and sell something but Bourdin believed that to capture the viewer's attention, you needed to place the importance on the image first and the product second. His work epitomises visual storytelling and creates a desire that is unexplainable.
The exhibition starts with a showcase of Bourdin's 'walking legs' Charles Jourdan advertising shoe campaign. They had me at shoe - one of my greatest loves in life! So visualise this - a pair of mannequin legs, cut off below the knees that act as a stand in for a real life model. Each set of pins rock a different pair of Charles Jourdan stilettos of which strut their sexy stuff across the frame of a standout backdrop. Surreal and oh so beautifully distinctive - I'd buy a truckful of those shoes in a heartbeat!
Colour is a regular theme in Bourdin's imagery - packed full of vibrancy laced with a beauty that disrupts the senses by disturbing first and delighting later...
The exhibit then moves onto a series of black and white work, which marks the end of Bourdin's career as a commercial photographer - personally a highlight of the showcase for me...
In my opinion Bourdin broke the mould - his work is gorgeously timeless, ingenious and mind-blowingly fascinating. Go. See his array of phenomenal photography. It won't disappoint. Cross my heart and hope to die.