Guy Bourdin: Image Maker
27 November 2014 – 15 March 2015;
Somerset House in London.
The biggest ever exhibition of Guy Bourdin’s photography has opened at Somerset House in London. Mary Katrantzou, who was inspired by Bourdin’s work for her spring/summer 2011 collection, explains his influence.
“I started this collection looking at fashion photography for inspiration, but Bourdin made me change tack. Because so many of his images are about the space around the model, I turned that on its head and put images of interiors on women’s clothes, rather than the women themselves.
“Bourdin was a French photographer who rose to fame in the 70s for his provocative fashion photography. Bourdin’s images are all about the decoration of space. There is a tension between the woman, the space and her position in an environment which might have a prop such as a sofa. The way you see her changes because of the use of space, it evokes a certain emotion. You want to know the narrative: why is she there? What is the image telling us? There is always a story behind it. You become a bit of a voyeur, and that is part of their power. You want to find out more.
Bourdin’s colours are so intense. They’re very 70s, heightened and enhanced, hyperreal but offset with the natural shades of the model’s skin. I think of a specific yellow connected to Bourdin, and a teal. There is always black and white somewhere too. I think if we was around now, he would find the advances in technology a playground for his work, to push different frontiers, but he wouldn’t get trapped by it. His images would always be distinctly him.
I have about three books on his work and that isn’t the case with many other fashion photographers. I know the work so well because of that collection that its instilled in my brain. You go back to it from time to time and see so many different things. There is so much depth to his images.”
- Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is at Somerset House until 15 March, somersethouse.org.uk.
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