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Italy – Milan

© Invite for MAF!A AD Agency, 1972 ∏ 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate

On the occasion of Milan Fashion Week, Giorgio Armani celebrates the creativity of the visionary photographer in its Milanese space, who knew how to bring together the mysterious, the bizarre, and the sublime in his pictures.

© Linea Italiana, circa 1982 ∏ 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate

His themes include surrealistic strangeness, the glamour of fashion, provocative humor, and the mysterious intrigues of the seventh art. A free spirit, Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) has always enjoyed fragmenting images and bodies, playing with disturbing poses, dark and confusing worlds, tight compositions, saturated colors, and lighting contrasts. If this Parisian native shook up the conventions of fashion photography in the middle of the 20th century, collaborating with the greatest magazines and luxury houses, he has always divided his life between painting, photography, directing, and writing. Giorgio Armani and the Succession Guy Bourdin are lending a hand and exhibiting a hundred unpublished and legendary works.

© Vogue Paris, March 1972 ∏ 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate

Like this ultra-cult photograph, published in Vogue Paris in 1970, showing several superimposed hands covering the eyes of a model, while letting this glossy red sublimate lips and manicure. “Guy Bourdin: Storyteller” thus brings to light the power of the work of this creative genius, “capable of condensing entire novels, usually detective or noir, into a single shot, in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock and Edward Hopper, whom he greatly admired.

© Vogue Paris, May 1970 ∏ 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate

Creative freedom

In the heart of this former grain silo, transformed into a museum of art and fashion, the exhibition is divided into several parts, in the image of one who has always favored “the creation of images” and not the product. The first explores his use of saturated colors in entire rooms of reds, greens, and pinks. The second gives way to black and white snapshots, reaffirming his expressive capacity and his meticulous play on contrast. The third plunges us into his love of cinema, with shots of advertising campaigns that evoke his fascination for the master of suspense, inventing behind the glamour “crime scenes and police chases.” Giorgio Armani’s desire is to make Armani/Silos “a center of contemporary photographic culture, embracing everything that touches his world as well as things that couldn’t be further from it.” The career of this French legend is a case in point. “At first glance, Guy Bourdin is not an artist with whom I have much in common,” says the Italian couturier.

© Vogue Paris, May 1977 ∏ 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate

“His language is sharp, graphic, and punchy. A sense of provocation is immediately perceptible in his work, but what strikes me most – and what I wanted to focus on – is rather his creative freedom, his narrative talent, and his great love of cinema. He didn’t follow the crowd and didn’t compromise, and I identify with that. I don’t think there is any other way to make a mark on the collective imagination.”

© Vogue Paris, May 1984 ∏ 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate

 Nathalie Dassa

Photo credits © 2023, The Guy Bourdin Estate