8 posts tagged "Guy Bourdin"
Legendary Paris department store Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is currently playing host to Guy Bourdin, Ses Films, an installation of 15 clips from films Bourdin shot from the 1960′s through the 1980′s. According to Shelly Verthime, who curated the show with Bourdin’s son Samuel, the films operate as both a time capsule and a window onto Bourdin’s creative process. “Making these films, I believe, was part of his obsessive search for the perfect image,” Verthime explains. “You see him experimenting with different angles, different lighting. What we see in those famous photos is the end result of this process, involving so many tiny adjustments.”
Verthime worked with Le Bon Marché to make sure that visitors to Ses Films felt that they were entering Bourdin’s world. The exhibition, which runs through October 29, is housed in a discrete area within the store. Visitors pass through a series of immersive spaces, catching glimpses of video on mirrors, or finding their own shadows reflected on the screen. That experience will surely whet fans’ appetite for the upcoming documentary on Bourdin that Verthime is working with the photographer’s estate to produce. The release date on that film is undecided, but in the meantime, Verthime tells Style.com about entering the mind of fashion’s surrealist master.
One of the things you always hear about Guy Bourdin is that his work is “cinematic.” Even when he was shooting an ad campaign, like Charles Jourdan, his photos seemed like stills from a strange movie. There is an implied narrative that you can’t quite figure out. It’s interesting to discover that Bourdin actually shot film as well, but, interestingly, he didn’t seem to use that medium for telling a story.
No, not at all. He wasn’t a “filmmaker,” per se. There’s no artistic ambition. What he liked to do was use the film as a kind of visual notebook. We have two kinds of video in the show: footage he shot on the set, and footage he shot on his journeys, in Martinique, going from London to Brighton, and so on. On the set, you see him taking stills, adjusting the backdrops, working with the models. It’s very intimate. The traveling footage is closer in spirit to what he would do with Polaroids. You see croppings of landscapes, people shot from the legs down. All these angles and compositions he used later.
The Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art gave the topic of models and muses a gala spin on Monday night. Now, the Wapping Project is getting into the act: The show Unseen Guy Bourdin arrives at the East London arts center this weekend, and its opening Saturday night will be hosted by none other than Bourdin muse Nicolle Meyer. Star of many of the photographer’s most iconic images, including 30 of his game-changing ads for Charles Jourdan, Meyer is a less immediately identifiable muse than some. As often as not, Bourdin kept Meyer’s face obscured, hiding it under props, snapping it from some bizarre angle, cropping it out of shots entirely. Their work together is an inventory of dislocated body parts. But in the years since Bourdin’s death, in 1991, Meyer has come to the fore, emerging as one of the key caretakers of the Bourdin legacy. She compiled the images in the two-volume book, Guy Bourdin: A Message for You (Steidl, 2006), for example, and here, she talks to Style.com about life behind the scenes of the surreal.
How did you meet Guy Bourdin?
It was a very normal thing—I was a model on a go-see. I had just started modeling and I only had a couple of tear sheets, and not having come from a fashion background at all—I was a dancer—I had no sense of his notoriety. That week, he booked me on a job for French Vogue. I was terribly excited, of course, to have this first Vogue opportunity, and then when we took the photos, I mean, they were odd. My head was missing, or it was just my leg. Nothing I could use for my modeling book, in other words.