Saturday, March 03, 2012

Bourdin and Hara at Michael Hoppen

Finishing this month are two very different kind of erotic photography exhibitions at the Michael Hoppen gallery just off London's King's Road. On the top floor is the surreal, often shocking but always beautiful fashion photography of Guy Bourdin (1928-1991). Working for Vogue magazine from the 1950s until the 80s, as well as producing ad campaigns for labels including Chanel and Versace, Bourdin threw every fashion photography cliche out the window with his daring, erotic, cinematic visuals.

It comes as no surprise that Guy Bourdin was influenced by Bunuel, Magritte, Man Ray – and the painter Balthus, who died in 2001 aged 92. The other exhibition at the Michael Hoppen I knew nothing about, having gone expressly for the Bourdin, but immediately upon entering the room and seeing Hisaji Hara's photographs there is no mistaking that they are all recreations of Balthus' paintings (and his illustrations for Wuthering Heights). But whereas Balthus' pictures have an unsettling undercurrent, Hara's photographs gently portray innocence in a dreamlike manner, with a nostalgic feeling of endless summer holidays, perhaps. With a hint of eroticism.

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