Bourdin’s charismatic photographs shaped both commercial and art photography throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
While legendary French photographer Guy Bourdain is best known for his embodiment of surrealism, “his influences were very diverse,” says his son, Samuel Bourdain. interview magazine. “From pop culture to high art, American comic books from the 50’s and 60’s, superlative illustrators, classic filmmakers like Erich von Stroheim, horror films, Pre-Raphaelite painters, classical music, and James Brown.”
Samuel noted that his attitude towards life was best summed up in his saying, “It is better to live five minutes of happiness than a full life in the traditional way.” Shock is better than appeasement.
Bourdain was born in France in 1928 and passed away in 1991. His work has been exhibited and collected by some of the most prestigious museums in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Modern in London, the Jeu de Paume, the Getty Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Photographer.
His career has spanned more than 40 years, and he has worked with all the major fashion magazines as well as the likes of Chanel, Charles Jourdan, Pentax, and Bloomingdale’s, among others, creating lush, gorgeous images unlike any other.
Though it never quite got a name quite as well as Helmut Newton, Borden’s work is getting a new lease on life thanks to something he could never have imagined: blockchain technology.
Guy Bourdin Estate is a key collaborator at fellowshipa new photography platform “dedicated to bringing the most iconic names in photography to Web3,” led by a group of artists and creators including Holly Hay of Wallpaper*, Chadwick Tyler, Alejandro Cartagena, and more.
“The fellowship will present NFT collections of work by living artists, emerging photographers, and the estates of artists like Bourdin,” marking a turning point for photography on the blockchain. ”
By creating “a new path for artists to present their work on the blockchain,” and by empowering a new generation of collectors, “the fellowship commissions and showcases photography in an accessible way by highlighting the very best pictorial talents, from established artists to the emerging artists of tomorrow.”
In addition to Bourdin, the fellowship’s first series of NFT photography exhibitions includes work by Joel Meyerowitz, Gregory Crewdson, and Joel Sternfeld. We spoke to Frederic Arnal, Director of the Guy Bourdin Estate, about his life and legacy.
Why is Borden’s work so important?
Guy Bourdin pushed the boundaries of fashion photography as early as the mid-1950s, at a time when his primary goal was often to illustrate elegance. His single image narratives, both complex and seductive, redirected the work of art photographers and shaped commercial and artistic photography throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, in ways that still resonate today. As a longtime collaborator with French Vogue, Bourdin’s work has brought a new level of thinking to image creation in fashion photography and beyond.
What new ground has he broken as a photographer?
Surrealist art, commercial photography, and fashion were considered distinctly different fields during the 1950s. Guy Borden was the first artist to fuse these worlds with his unconventional work, elevating storytelling within fashion photography even to syndicated products. His images cemented fashion photography—and in some ways fashion itself—as the narrative art we know today.
Why does his work continue to be relevant?
Creating a narrative is an art in itself, and only a handful of artists have mastered it over the 150-year history of photography. To this day, Bourdin’s work is a prime example of portraiture in the art and commercial photography space for its distinctive aesthetic as much as its inventive spirit.
How will the fellowship help amplify that?
One of the Fellowship’s goals is to make the art of photography – from collections of historical interest to collections of more recent work – accessible to a wider audience via Web3. Collaborations with Guy Bourdain’s facility and other artists’ archives have revealed new ways of understanding these seminal works. It has invited a new generation of artists to explore Bourdin’s artistic vision and expand on their own.
What is Bourdain’s legacy in the world of photography?
The spirit of relentless innovation that radiates through his life’s work.