Milan 2023 – To coincide with Milan Fashion Week, Giorgio Armani inaugurates the exhibition Guy Bourdin: Storyteller at the Armani/Silos space. Intended to pay tribute to the work of the French photographer, the idea behind the exhibition is to portray his compositional and narrative intent, delving beyond the provocation that has always been associated with his work. In the vein of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and artist Edward Hopper, whom he greatly admired, Guy Bourdin was essentially a storyteller, capable of condensing entire novels, usually crime or noir, into a single shot. 

For the exhibition at Armani/Silos, Giorgio Armani and the Guy Bourdin Estate have selected one hundred photographs, including both iconic shots and lesser-known images. The use of saturated colours – a defining characteristic of Guy Bourdin’s style – is explored in entire rooms of reds, greens and pinks, as is his take on the deconstructed form, especially when playing with mannequins, and his unmistakable composition. Twenty-one black and white photographs show how immediate Bourdin’s expressive ability is, even with the simplest of contrasts. One section explores Bourdin’s love of cinema, a central element in his creativity, featuring a selection of advertising campaign images showing what appear to be crime scenes or police chases, alluding to his fascination with Alfred Hitchcock and the theme of the “mysterious plot”. 

“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. At first glance, Guy Bourdin is not an artist with whom I have a lot in common: his language is clear-cut, graphic, and impactful. 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”, comments Giorgio Armani. 

Born in Paris in 1928, Guy Bourdin began his career as a painter and became a self-taught photographer in the early fifties. He immediately developed a uniquely personal style, steeped in surrealist references and atmospheres as a result of his long-standing friendship with Man Ray, whom he met in 1951. Discovered by Vogue Paris, he started a collaboration with the magazine, which spawned photoshoots and advertising campaigns of impressive creative freedom. His steadfast intent was to prioritise image creation, not product, and he remained unwaveringly true to his principles. Bourdin’s background as a painter influenced his approach, from his meticulous study of colour to compositions that hovered between the absurd and the sublime, highly stimulating the subconscious of the spectator. The hyperreal colours, plays of light and shadow, and ‘glossy’ make-up on the models are all part of his unique, distinctive visual code. 

The Guy Bourdin: Storyteller exhibition will be open to the public from 24 February to 31 August 2023. 

For further information: 

Guy Bourdin
Special thanks to:
Giorgio Armani
Press Office:
Guy Bourdin: Storyteller Exhibition