Stylised Innovation

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

Starting out as Man Ray’s protégé in the 1950s, Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) was always destined for great things. His influential 40-year career was founded on a unique approach to 20th century fashion photography. Unwilling to compromise, Bourdin always believed the product should be secondary and the overall image first. He transformed simple items of clothing into objects that were surprising, rich and beautiful. His distinctive style of visual storytelling is still prevalent in the work of contemporary photographers such as Tim Walker and Nick Knight. This winter, Bourdin’s oeuvre is celebrated in Guy Bourdin: Image Maker at Somerset House, London. The stunning exhibition features over 100 colour prints, early images in black and white, and a variety of other materials: Polaroid test shots, doublepage-spread layouts, contact sheets and transparencies marked for composition. The following photographs are a selection from the presentation and illustrate Bourdin’s innate understanding of image-making.