Over the weekend, we visited Somerset House to see an exhibition (ends 15th March) of works by French fashion photographer, Guy Bourdin (1928-91). The exhibition covers Bourdin's work from 1955-87 and includes previously unseen material.
It is a really interesting and extensive look at Bourdin's photography and meticulous process - from preliminary sketches, backstage snapshots and contact prints to the final images.
As a protégé of Man Ray, Bourdin was naturally interested in surrealism. Establishing the idea that product is secondary to image, Bourdin cleverly sold clothing, beauty and accessories with images that told a complex narrative - sometimes sensual, provocative, surreal or strange.
Bourdin was also a pioneer of the fashion film. Often filming in slow motion on set of a photoshoot, his super 8 films reveal an intimate view of the models and capture dream-like portraits.
A personal favourite was the final room with a selection of polaroid images taken as preliminary sketches and ideas for images. In these snapshots, you can see how Bourdin often revisits the landscape for inspiration. A beautiful b&w super 8 film featuring hand-held shots of craggy cliffs and the sun dancing off the sea accompanies these polaroids.
Whilst at Somerset House, we would also recommend a visit to "Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and The Advent of Punk", a free exhibition (ends 25th January) of photography by Chris Stein, guitarist of Blondie, who had a close relationship with Debbie Harrie and other well known new wave/punk musicians of the era.
For more info, visit www.somersethouse.org.uk
All images were taken at the Guy Bourdin exhibition at Somerset House.