Guy Bourdin was a painter and legendary fashion photographer whose style has been pervasively appropriated in pop culture. Mentored by Man Ray, he avoided the limelight, focusing strictly on the creation of arresting pictures. Despite staging surreal mise en scènes for high-end brands like Vogue, fashion was the last thing on his mind. On the occasion of a current retrospective of Bourdin’s work, his son, Samuel, revealed the truth about his father, an artist who is legitimately known as one of the twentieth century’s best fashion photographers. 

The following is an excerpt from the April, 2015 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine, on sale now.


Kristin Farr: What do you think was unique about the way your father viewed his subjects?
Samuel Bourdin: Being a painter who was not interested in being successful, wealthy, or having access to females gave my father an entirely different approach to his work. He was an imagemaker, first and foremost. He knew all the museums of Europe. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of poetry. Being self taught, he never ceased to learn and explore. The finality of his work was to express himself, explore, and to push his creative boundaries, with no marketing media plans involved.

What kind of personality did he have?
Shy, generous, perfectionist, hard working.

Why did he shy away from celebrity? I have heard that he wanted all of his work to be destroyed in the end. Is that true?
He did shy away from notoriety, more out of being humble than anything else. I don’t think success was ever a priority. Money certainly was not, since most of his income from the Charles Jourdan campaigns, for example, went into subsidizing editorial work for Condé Nast.

And he never intended to destroy his work at the end of his life. Quite the contrary. As a matter of fact, he kept every piece of his negatives. I have boxes and boxes of rejects. My father kept everything and never underestimated his work. It was the meaning of his life, even if a lack of organization might have been misconstrued at times. 

Read the full interview in the April, 2015 issue, on newsstands worldwide or subscribe and save more than half off.