European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

‘Guy Bourdin: Storyteller’ at Armani / Silos

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Armani / Silos in Milan dedicates an exhibition to photographer Guy Bourdin and his ability to tell intriguing stories

A painter, a photographer, bearing the surrealist legacy of artists like Man Ray, who managed to portray fashion and its symbols as expression of the human psyche: Guy Bourdin is definitely one of the most interesting image makers since the 1950s. All about his images is aimed to entice the senses: his style is ‘sensual’ by definition, exploiting the potential of colours and details to strike the audience and force them to stare and question what is behind the surface of the image.

The exhibition at Armani / Silos does exactly this: it delves behind the surface and tells the story of a man capable of telling stories with his photos. The show is a tribute to Bourdin and celebrates his visual style: it is a new interpretation of the work of the photographer, whose imagery has usually been considered for its provocative and alluding qualities. Instead of focusing on the flair of the images, the show at Armani / Silos gathers the most compelling stories the photographer has been able to condense in his iconic shots.

The selection was done by Giorgio Armani together with the Guy Bourdin Estate and showcases some of the lesser-known images as well the ones that became part of contemporary visual history. Colour is explored in the bold, saturated hues loved by Bourdin, while the twenty-one black and white photographs show his ability to capture shapes and volumes and make them speak. Cinema – something that interested Bourdin and is indeed part of Mr Armani’s own imagery – is expressed via a section dedicated to the shots the mostly evoke ‘mysterious plot.’

Giorgio Armani commented on the choice of the topic and the curatorial attitude: ‘this exhibition is further confirmation of my intention to make Armani/ Silos a centre of contemporary photography culture, embracing everything related to the Armani world as well as things that couldn’t be further from it. A sense of provocation is immediately evident in his work but what strikes me the most – and what I wanted to focus on – is instead his creative freedom, his narrative skill and his great love of cinema. Bourdin did not follow the crowd and he did not compromise and I identify with that. I don’t believe that there is any other way to make a mark on the collective imagination.’