Walking Legs, is one of Parisian photographer Guy Bourdin’s most loved campaign series, commissioned initially by French shoe designer – and longstanding friend, collaborator, client – Charles Jourdan. Shot against quintessentially English home, town and country landscapes, this high-end 1979 campaign is surely an unusual one – comprising a range of disembodied mannequin legs which appear to be strutting along proudly in their glimmering designer heels.
The locations were picked out from a road trip taken by Bourdin, along with his son, in a Cadillac from London to Brighton, carrying with him a boot full of Charles Jourdan heels. Many of the featured landscapes are easily recognisable, remaining much the same today: London bus stops, beach huts along Brighton pier, typically English wooden park benches, pink rose-filled summer gardens. These portraits are at once humorous, surreal and slightly eerie – the model’s body reduced to dismembered calves, ankles, toes.
This series, now being publicly exhibited in its entirety for the very first time (only a small sample of images were originally published), clearly displays Bourdin’s revolutionary eye as he defied commercial conventions in favour of playful wit and complex narratives – the products themselves only a small element within a wide, intricate and visually impressive image.
Guy Bourdin: Walking Legs, until 28 March, Michael Hoppen Gallery, 3 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TD.
For additional information, visit www.michaelhoppengallery.com.
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Guy Bourdin’s recent exhibition Image Maker at Somerset House, London, can be seen in Aesthetica Issue 62. Pick a copy of the magazine at www.aestheticamagazine.com.
1. Guy Bourdin, Charles Jordan, Autumn 1979. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery.