New York

Guy Bourdin


Before Guy Bourdin was a great fashion photographer (perhaps best known for his work for French Vogue in the ’70s), he was a modest artist, in search of the visually unexpected for its own sake. As evidenced in this show of early black-and-white photography, he was less a manipulator and more a discoverer, and what he discovered was abstraction, as the natural grace of the world. One’s surroundings became spontaneously abstract, if one only knew how to look; no matter how ordinary, they blossomed into perfect form.

That’s the lesson of the marvelous Spring, 1960, a simple epiphany of the eponymous season. The stark seriality of a white fence is interrupted by a proliferating plant that surges through it. The abstractness of both fence and plant is conspicuous: The organic appears as ceaseless gesture—expressionism on a rampage—while the fence exemplifies an unyielding geometric order, a

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