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Original Creator: Fashion Photographer Of The Sensual And Surreal, Guy Bourdin

Each week we pay homage to a select “Original Creator” – an iconic artist from days gone by whose work influences and informs today’s creators. These are artists who were innovative and revolutionary in their fields—bold visionaries and radicals, groundbreaking frontiersmen and women who inspired and informed culture as we know it today. This week: Guy Bourdin.

With an obsession for technical perfection and a taste for controversy, Guy Bourdin was one of the most experimental and influential fashion photographers of the 20th century, and quite possibly the least understood.

His tumultuous romantic entanglements with women are often said to reflect the estranged sexuality and taboo desire realized in his works. His notorious affinity for pale-skinned, red-headed models stems from the faint memory of his mother who abandoned him as an infant. The early deaths of his first wife and subsequent girlfriend were rumored as suicides, surrounding him with controversy, and underlining the dark and at times disturbing themes found in his works.

Perhaps it was the pain of his plight that drove Bourdin’s inimitable vision for beauty. After receiving his first training in photography during his military service in Senegal, he returned to Paris and became American modernist artist Man Ray’s protégé. Bourdin first exhibited his photographs in Paris in 1952 and shortly after began working for French Vogue. It was then that Bourdin was given complete editorial control and began to cement his distinction in fashion photography.


Vogue (1977)

The height of his career from the late 1960s through 1970s comprises editorial works in French, Italian, American, and British editions of Vogue, in addition to his renowned campaigns for Charles Jourdan and later for the high-fashion likes of Chanel and Issey Miyake.

Through his highly controlled compositions and surreal imagery infused with a seductive gloom, Bourdin has radically changed the style and meaning of commercial imagery and fine art and continues to do so as his influence carries over to contemporaries such as Nick Knight and David LaChapelle.


Charles Jourdan (1975)


Charles Jourdan (1979)


Vogue (1975)


Charles Jourdan (1977)


Vogue (1977)


Charles Jourdan (1979)


Vogue (1969)


Charles Jourdan (1975)

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