Think of Guy Bourdin, and you’ll probably think of intense, transgressive images shot in highly-saturated colours. There’s his photograph for Pentax in 1980, for example, which shows a gush of red liquid apparently streaming from a prone woman’s mouth; or his shot from 1978, which shows a woman’s bottom and legs lying on orange sofa – her head firmly out of the picture.
But Bourdin also shot award-wining black-and-white work, which is less known now but which was celebrated in its time. There’s his black-and-white campaign for Chanel’s first ‘Premiere’ watch, for example, which he shot in 1987. Influenced by his interest in Surrealism – in particular Man Ray – and not clearly advertising images, this campaign went on to win the Infinity Award at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in New York in 1988.
In 1997, a document titled A Study of Assassination was released by the CIA as part of the Freedom of Information Act. It is believed to have been created in 1953 with the purpose of instructing agents on how to kill, and was released with a collection of files relating to the 1954 CIA-backed overthrow of the-then newly-elected leader of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The operation in Guatemala was lobbied for by United Fruit Company, an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit, mainly bananas, and which wielded huge power in Central America at the time.
When he found out about these documents, George Selley was instantly captivated, and his new project, A Study of Assassination, combines pages from the manual with archival press images, banana advertisements and Cold War propaganda. BJP caught up with the recent London College of Communication MA graduate to find out more about this project and his approach to images.
It would be an understatement to say that the legacy of Gyula Halász – better known by his pseudonym, Brassaï – has been the object of extensive research and countless curatorial projects. Yet the Fundación Mapfre, the private institution that has shown the highest devotion to photography in Spain, has entrusted Peter Galassi, the former chief curator of photography at Museum of Modern Art, to conduct what will probably be the definitive exhibition about the Hungarian-French photographer at its Barcelona gallery, the Garriga i Nogués exhibition hall (19 February to 13 May). The exhibition could be considered to be Galassi’s biggest curatorial endeavour so far since he retired from MoMA, and the catalogue, published by Fundación Mapfre, can attest to the pertinence of this major survey of Brassaï.
In the 1950s, André Breton, the anarchic poet-founder of Surrealism reached out to the Bordeaux painter and photographer Pierre Molinier. He had become obsessed with the man’s work: sexual, dream-like and utterly transgressive. As it turns out, Molinier was both gay and a transvestite, and through his work employed his body and that of acquaintances to create visions of a hybrid identity, unencumbered by traditional gender notions. Intertwined limbs, many-headed creatures and deformed bodies were not just visual references intended to shock; while Molinier’s tended towards the extreme, his exploration of the erotic foreshadowed work by the likes of Cindy Sherman and Robert Mapplethorpe. Earlier this year, London’s Richard Saltoun Gallery played host to the first UK exhibition of his work for over 20 years, and at this year’s Paris Photo, Artcurial are presenting a collection of Molinier’s work for sale. Nearly 200 works by Molinier, including photographs, drawings and personal correspondences have been compiled for the auction on Friday 13th November by Emmanuelle Arsan, a muse of the artist who drew equal inspiration from him …
From photographs inspired by crime scenes to pseudo-scientific experiments, Clare Strand has always marched to the beat of her own drum – and her latest exhibition, Getting Better and Worse at the Same Time, is no exception. Featuring The Happenstance Generator (a machine that blows around images from her research projects) and The Entropy Pendulum (a moving arm that swings backwards and forwards over one of her prints), it’s a quirky, animated take on photography and kinesis that, like her previous projects, is somehow held together by Strand’s idiosyncratic, retro-futuristic aesthetic. BJP took five minutes with the artist to find out more. BJP: Is the work in this exhibition all new, apart from The Happenstance Generator? Clare Strand: It’s all pretty much new – there are few pieces that have been shown but never in the context of a cohesive show. BJP: Did you make it all for the show? Or have you just had a particularly fruitful time of it recently? CS: Yes, most the works have been made for this show. I like working …