Photography has been the order of the month, and since it’s a medium close to our hearts, its like Christmas has come early for The Cultural Exposé. Especially as an exhibition of iconic imagery from Fashion and Advertising photographer Guy Bourdin has opened at Somerset House and promises to be a stunning review of the extraordinary talent of this prominent image maker.
Curated by Alistair O’Neil and Shelly Verthime, the show will be the largest retrospective of the photographer’s career, featuring many previously unseen images from 1955 to 1987. Verthime has spent years exploring Bourdin’s archive, advised on the V&A’s exhibition of the photographer in 2003 and produced numerous books: she remains a true authority on the subject.
Stylistically, there is no mistaking Bourdin’s work: bright colours, strange set-ups and not a product in sight, he worked to create stories, associations or emotions, barely using the actual objects he was employed to sell.
The process behind the set-ups and the storytelling ability of this master are explored throughout the show. Produced in a pre-digital age, the exhibition details how Bourdin’s photographs were planned, arranged and developed; the process was pain-staking, amounting to days of pre-planning. Highlights of the show include the complete Walking Legs series from 1979, a range of Super-8 films he made on-location, as well as sketches, Polaroids and unseen fashion films.
Provocative and often downright shocking – the portrayal of women in his work has always been a subject up for debate. Nevertheless, the result was always undeniably visually stunning and this exhibition will unveil how the imagery of Bourdin is as fresh today as ever. (Words: Laura Thornley)
On until March 2015. For more info visit: http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/guy-bourdin
(Picture credits: Guy Bourdin Estate)