The extreme and extraordinary excellence of photographer Guy Bourdin is certainly unquestionable. In Between, a monograph, published November 2010, includes over 300 stunning iconic images and serves as an essential book in the examination and rediscovery of the exceptional genius behind the photographer’s erotically provocative work. It delves into a career that spanned four decades and charts the artist’s development from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Guy Bourdin, who worked as a self-taught painter and photographer his entire life, is often described as one of the most esteemed visualists of modern times and, as noted by the critic Elisabeth Mahoney, was “a key player in the transformation of fashion photography from being about the product to emphatically being about the image”. He “constructed scenarios of sexual danger and sadistic allure, voyeuristic thrills and murderous passion. Female bodies of mannequin stillness and corpse-like chill feature in what look like stills from a soft-porn film directed by Hitchcock at his darkest.”
Bourdin began his career with still and landscape black and white images (1950-1957) shot on the streets of Paris and Normandy, and later became internationally renowned (and often copied) because of his work, mainly his outstanding editorials for French Vogue. “The books title was chosen to reflect the layers and dualities of this body of work where in between reflections, refractions, and multiplications, the viewer discovers images within images, a world within a world,” Verthime, the book’s editor writes.
As the independent curator and cultural historian Charlie Scheips writes in his intriguing introduction to In Between, “The camera was Guy Bourdin’s brush and the magazine his canvas. Fashion and photography were enriched because he insisted in following his own brilliant, if sometimes troubled and enigmatic quest.”
I present to you a collection of surreal, and at times disturbing, images of immaculate complexity by a unique, visual mastermind.