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French Vogue, May 1977

London Fashion Week has just come to a dazzling end but the catwalk headquarters, Somerset House, is not over with fashion at all. After last year’s shows of Tim Walker, Erwin Blumenfeld and Miles Aldrige, this fall it bestows yet another big name in fashion photography with his largest retrospective ever held in the UK.

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker brings together over 100 original prints, paintings, drawing, sketches and other material produced by the visionary artist, who marked a turning point in XX century photography. Bourdin understood that fashion photography is more than a simple means to sell clothing and accessories, for him the image and the story behind it came before the product, which thus became secondary. He understood how much more powerful campaigns are when they are presenting and selling an idea, rather than a simple object.

For a long time known as the protégé of Man Ray, Bourdin was deeply inspired by the aesthetics of Dadaism, which reverberates in his signature quirky style consisting of colourful close-ups of strange, and sometimes unsettling, situations. Nevertheless, Guy Bourdin: Image Maker also presents early and late black and white works that bring to the public attention a different Bourdin, still able to create strong and surrealistic images even without the powerful shades of colour.

The show, that opened up last Saturday and will run through March 2015, has been co-curated by star fashion historian Alistair O’Neill, reader at Saint Martins, and also curator of the recent, and hugely acclaimed, exhibition Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is open daily form 10 am to 6 pm in the Embankment Galleries of Somerset House. Admission is £9 – or £ 7 concession

Caterina Berardi

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