Milan’s Carla Sozzani hip gallery at 10 Corso Como is currently celebrating Guy Bourdin‘s provocative, masterful photography. The exhibition includes the section A Message for You, which presents a series of photographs dating back mainly to the 1970’s, and Unseen, showing works from the artist’s own archive. Seductive, glossy, sometimes disturbing and doubtlessly radical, Bourdin’s works are a perverse and superb aesthetization of recurrent themes such as death, desire, and sex. Suicide, murder, pleasure and pain, but also decadence, glamor and a quest for perfection, are the components that define most of the images. Inspired by Surrealism and its fascination for transgression, the irrational and the uncanny, Bourdin envisions fantastic plots that make his fashion photography look delightfully attractive and impenetrable. He definitely succeeds in combining ground-breaking commercial campaigns and fashion advertising with his dark, gloomy, and even perverse modality of vision. He also seems to be well aware of the fact that it’s not the fashion item per se but the image to attract us as viewers, and this probably explains why we cannot help but be intrigued, if not utterly captured, by the beauty of his greatly charged images. What is apparent is that each one of his photographs is not a simple medium subjected to presenting a product but becomes a place where Bourdin the artist asserts his idea of photography as art.
Born in Paris in 1928, Guy Bourdin is regarded as one of the greatest photographers of fashion and advertising of the 20th century. Influenced by the well-known Surrealist photographer Man Ray, and by the work of many other Surrealists like Magritte and Balthus, Bourdin worked for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and shot a variety of advertising campaigns for many fashion designers such as Chanel, Ungaro and Versace. He died of cancer in Paris in 1991. His first retrospective was held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2003.