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PORTFOLIO

12.01.2018

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Though most widely known for his colour images, Guy Bourdin launched his career in black and white in the early 1950s. An interview with Shelly Verthime, editor of the photobook Guy Bourdin–Untouched and curator of Guy Bourdin's works at the current exhibition Guy Bourdin. Image Maker.

The early work of Guy Bourdin differs from his well-known colour fashion photography work. Can you tell us a little bit more when (and why) Guy Bourdin worked with Leica?

Our research lead us to believe that Guy Bourdin worked with Leica especially during 1950-1955. These were the years that he was just out of the army and before ge started working commercially for the first time as a fashion photographer for Vogue Paris. During that time, he was searching for his visual and artistic content and for material that he could include in his first exhibitions. Leica was one of the most popular cameras at the time and he liked to use it.

Where were the pictures taken?

He was mainly going around Paris and Normandy with his camera. He would take long walks and photograph the street of post-war Paris, and ride his bicycle when in Normandy.

How many series from the early work have been preserved?

All his work is preserved: the oil paintings, illustrations, poems, black and white vintage landscapes in Normandy, the brown envelopes that became the basis for Untouched. In addition there are lots of negatives, transparencies, polaroids fashion and non fashion, ciné films etc.

How many of these works are now being exhibited in Berlin?

We selected around 20 photos for the current exhibition that can be seen until May 13th 2018 at the Helmut Newton Foundation.

Which topics impressed you personally most during the processing of the estate?

For sure, the discovery of the these unique envelopes, treated in such a special style with cropped contacts on top of the envelopes and the negatives inside, not only gave us insight into how he would use cropping in the future as his own signature, but also made it clear how motivated he was to exhibit his work and be recognised as an artist.
© The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017
© The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017
© The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017
© The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017
© The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017

Guy Bourdin

Though most widely known for his colour images, Guy Bourdin launched his career in black and white in the early 1950s. The photobook Untouched explores this largely unseen work and gives insight into the early development of his photographic eye. The carefully constructed images, initially concieved as an exhibition series, reveal his artistic motivation years before he began working on assignments for Vogue Paris and Photo Femina.
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