Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Art

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Art

Article excerpt

Byline: HEPHZIBAH ANDERSON

Guy Bourdin

Perhaps it is a reaction to the surge of interest in video art. Perhaps it is a sign that the public is tiring of what American writer Tom Wolfe dubbed 'skill-proof art'. Or perhaps the medium's freezeframe instantaneity simply speaks to the fragmented, hectically paced speed of modern life. Whatever the reason, a photographic renaissance is under way and fashion photography in particular is vying for artistic acceptance. Now, hot on the stiletto heels of the Barbican's David LaChapelle solo show comes the V&A's retrospective of French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, which has opened just ahead of the museum's first permanent photography gallery.

Guy Bourdin was at the height of his career from the mid Seventies to the early Eighties, during which time he worked almost exclusively for French Vogue and Charles Jourdan shoes, and images from this period form the bulk of this show. Bourdin set the tone for much of the photography that fills today's glossies, and the glistening reds, pinks and Astroturf green that saturate his work all seemed punchier still back then.

But Bourdin's work is about far more than lipstick and strappy sandals.

There are echoes of Magritte in his partial obscuring, truncating and magnification of his models.

By presenting us with a picture within a picture of what we expect to see, he questions both the acts of viewing and of image-making - the head that lolls beyond the frame pops up on a television screen, a model thrusts at the camera a Polaroid picture of herself in the same pose.

Several of these riddling images seem to depict scenes of sinister crimes against women. In one, a man's finger reaches for the bell on a door frame, through a chink in the door the upper torso of a woman can be seen, her head thrown back and a pink bloom dangling from her hand. Like so many of Bourdin's women, her pale skin seems to whisper of the morgue, but oddly enough, it is the angle of the shot that is so disturbing - too high and ever-so-slightly skewed, it leaves the viewer levitating, as if trapped in a bad dream.

Elsewhere, the chalked outline of a fullskirted corpse lies on stained tarmac before a dark, shiny car. …

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