Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin

French fashion photographer
Date of Birth: 02.12.1928
Country: France

  1. Biography of Guy Bourdin
  2. Early Life
  3. Early Career
  4. Unique Style
  5. Personal Life
  6. Recognition and Legacy

Biography of Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin was a legendary French fashion photographer who gained scandalous fame for his provocative and explicit photographs. Many considered his work to be pornography, and later Bourdin's style was labeled as art extremism. Sex, glamour, and cruelty were the three main elements in Bourdin's works, and many critics argued that the photographer was merely using art as a cover for his overtly pornographic works.

Early Life

Bourdin was born in 1928 in Paris, France as Guy Louis Banarès. His mother abandoned him when he was just a year old, and he was adopted by Maurice Désiré Bourdin, who gave him his own name and raised him with the help of his mother. Bourdin first encountered photography while serving in the army in Dakar, and this passion stayed with him for the rest of his life.

Early Career

Upon returning to Paris, Bourdin crossed paths with Man Ray, a renowned and controversial artist and photographer, who immediately took him under his wing. Bourdin presented his first black and white photographs to the public in the early 1950s under the pseudonym Edwin Hallan. His talent was recognized, and soon he was working under contract with the French publication Vogue. Although artistic photographs did not bring in much income, Bourdin found success in commercial photography, which led him to embrace the fashion world.

Unique Style

While working at Vogue, Bourdin developed his own distinctive style - bold, aggressive, and sexual. Gradually, he pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable, and his photographs became increasingly explicit. Models who worked with Bourdin described him as demanding and irritable during shoots, creating an oppressive atmosphere. However, his works were truly genius. Many, however, interpreted his photographs as having a pornographic undertone. Critics also accused him of other sins, seeing darkness, vice, and perversity in his images. Indeed, many of his photographs have an eerie quality, such as a chalk silhouette of a woman on asphalt or a unnaturally still girl on a chair.

Personal Life

Bourdin saw himself as a true artist and held himself to high standards. He lived an austere life, avoiding the spotlight, and focused solely on his art. He did not enjoy the attention surrounding his persona and did not participate in fashionable social events. His wife, Solange Marie Louise Gèze, died unexpectedly in 1961, and rumors circulated that she had taken her own life due to the strain of their marriage.

Recognition and Legacy

Despite controversial criticism, Bourdin was eagerly sought after by fashion houses and publications. In addition to Vogue, he worked for Harper's Bazaar and created advertisements for Chanel, Issey Miyake, Emanuel Ungaro, Gianni Versace, Loewe, Pentax, and Bloomingdale's. Regardless of the labels given to his work - perverse, vulgar, repulsive, and more - they never went unnoticed and were always widely discussed.

When Guy Bourdin passed away in 1981, his photographs transitioned from fashion magazines to highly acclaimed photo exhibitions.