i'm not sure about bourdin. fact is, that he is a very refined photographer. but i am not too fond of this certain aesthetic that is a combination of shock/cold beauty/commerce/looking glass....if you know what i mean.
it is very modern other than my romantic forlorness in beauty...but still i have a distance to it, i feel that i can never really, really understand it. only claim to do so...
nevertheless i love some of the images you posted, especially these two:
(and these i understand)
thanks for an interesting topic travolta.
you know that you can see his films on showstudio?
(and have you noticed showstudio has a forum now?)
I get a sense of alienation from his work, but it's also very personal, so I don't know. Voyeuristic, perhaps. His use of strong color fascinates me anyway, it's as affecting as any high-contrast black-and-white.
It flung up momently the sacred river.
It's a shame, but I had never heard about him until a few months ago when I read an article on him in an ELLE while waiting at the doctor's. At first I was impressed by his pictures that immediately captured my eye, it's much like there's a very intimidating scene going on and you have to figure out what the lines are and where it actually starts or ends.
Then I read his story. About the model who had to lie on this glass platform in the fierce sun. Bourdin only began shooting when she started showing signs of fainting. He'd glue pearls all over the models' bodies, so their skin couldn't breathe and they would black out. Things like that. He obviously didn't treat women like he should have, due to his past. Which is again something interesting about him.
The main line that you come across in each photo seems to be somethings along the lines of "beauty has to hurt". He always tries to find the perfect balance between beauty, irony and destruction. In my opinion he completed that mission. What also struck me, is that he was far ahead of his time when it comes to technique. It look so up to date!
Errh.. to keep this short I think he was one of the most fascinating people ever. Macabre, yet extremely fascinating.
thanks annak for the pics and info. jennifer, i agree with you regarding the personal/ voyeuristic feeling to his work...he's been compared to stanely kubrick. not surprisingly he had a contract with french vogue for three decades. i liked this quote by harpers and queen, "more than any other photographer, bourdin made us aware it is the image we are seduced by, rather than the product..." this may explain why he worked with kenzo (the black and white image above) and several times with issey miyake, for a campaign in 1975 and a calender in 1978.
perlefine you brought up some really good points. when said "beauty has to hurt" i think you were right on target. he was sadistic and in turn masochistic. he reminds me of 70's performance artists like chris burden who crucified himself on a vw bug. their motivation was they thought art had to be pushed to the extreme to be relevant, also they were reacting against the political unrest at the time. i read that bourdin is considered to be a "fine art" photographer, and originally tried his hand at painting, but realized he would never attain to depth and power of his heros, francis bacon and balthus.