Guy Bourdin, Heart, Pentax calendar, 1980

Guy Bourdin, Heart, Pentax calendar, 1980

In collaboration with the 2013 edition of Pitti Uomo, The MNAF Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia presents A Message For You the photographic exhibition dedicated to Guy Bourdin, that tells the master of fashion photography who signed the most famous advertising campaigns of the ’70s.

Guy Bourdin is considered to be one of the most daring and intriguing artists in the world of 20th century visual culture. With an eye of a painter, he was able to create fascinating images in terms of storytelling, compositions and colors, exploring the realms between the absurd and the sublime. Using fashion photography as his medium, his photographic ambiguous settings, suggestive narratives and surreal aesthetics, radically broke conventions of commercial photography.

He was able to touch generations of readers by creating a moment of magic using a transient form of expression – the glossy magazine page. His legacy and inspirational work is finally being celebrated by major international museums.
A singular artist with a unique perception of art, fashion, advertising and life, and a relentless search for perfection, Guy Bourdin was responsible for the groundbreaking turning point in the world of image-making in the late 70s.

A Message For You aims to capture this most significant period of his career and focus on the unique body of work that Guy Bourdin produced together with Nicolle Meyer as his lead model. The 75 modern exhibited prints, is a compilation of French Vogue editorials and various advertising campaigns such as: Charles Jourdan, Pentax calendar and Versace together with a collection of unpublished images from the Guy Bourdin archives.

The projection presents a road trip through Guy Bourdin’s visual landscape, through which the viewer enters into a nearly private domain of a creator, who was pooling together, ideas, thoughts, dreams where the fluidity of imagination is transformed into a final image. The research became a procession of moments captured en route: personalities, situations, landscapes, colors, objects and details, familiar, yet remote. Like a fine artist or a film director, Guy Bourdin’s inquisitive mind and eye makes the journey simultaneously intense, surprising and full of humor, pre-conceiving ideas for future images and storytelling.

MNAF Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia
10 Jan. – 14 March 2013 | Florence | Italy
T. 055 216310 |

Guy Louis Bourdin (December 2, 1928 in Paris – March 29, 1991 in Paris), born Guy Louis Banarès, was a French fashion photographer. Bourdin was one of the best known photographers of fashion and advertising of the second half of the 20th century. He shared Helmut Newton’s taste for controversy and stylization, but Bourdin’s formal daring and the narrative power of his images exceeded the bounds of conventional advertising photography. He set the stage for a new kind of fashion photography.
Bourdin worked for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and shot ad campaigns for Chanel, Issey Miyake, Ungaro, Versace, Loewe, Pentax and Bloomingdale’s.
He was the first photographer to create a complex narrative, then snatch a moment — sensual, provocative, shocking, exotic, surrealistic, sometimes sinister — and simply associate it with a fashion item. The narratives were strange and mysterious, sometimes full of violence, sexuality, and surrealism. Bourdin was influenced by his mentor Man Ray, photographer Edward Weston, the surrealist painters Magritte and Balthus, and film maker Luis Buñuel. Even though much less well known to the public than his colleague Helmut Newton (also working for Vogue), Bourdin possibly has been more influential on the younger generations of fashion photographers.