The New Yorker 7th November 1994


The Return of Guy Bourdin


He was fashion's most innovative voyeur. Then his work went out of style, and he was forgotten. Now a fittingly Bourdinesque revival is under way.


By Anthony Haden-Guest



THE photograph was to show a bare white leg sticking out of profound darkness, like an apparition or magic trick. The leg's owner a nineteen-year-old French fashion model named Louise Despointes, waited in a British Vogue's London Studio, which was freezing cold, until the photographer was ready. Then, wrapped in plastic, she was lowered into a bathtub full of water hardly warmer than the air. Only her leg and head protruded. Guy never told me what he was going to do," she now says.

The year was 1969 and Guy was the French photographer Guy Bourdin, who was in the middle of a remarkable career. What he did was to upend a can of black enamel paint, which floated over the surface of the water, and shoot until he had his picture. When Despointes clambered out, she found the plastic had not protected her. "She was enamelled like a saucepan," Grace Coddington, the editor of the shoot, recalls. Despointes says, "They couldn't get it off my body for days. Guy was delighted." It was probably not so much her discomfort that occasioned Bourdin's glee as the possibility she would be prevented from working with any other photographer for sometime • even in his notorious controlling profession, Bourdin was a very controlling man. "Anyway, that wasn't the worse," Despointes says, "The worse was the pearls."

Despointes and another model had been booked for Christmas, 1970, issue of French Vogue, where Bourdin was the leading photographer. He had his makeup man smear each of his models' faces with a thin film of glue, over which he scattered dozens of pearls. "Then Guy decided that he wanted to do the whole body with those pearls," Despointes says. "But he did not know if the whole body is glued it can't breathe. And we blacked out. The editor said 'We can't go any further. These girls will die'. And Guy was saying, 'Oh it would be beautiful - to have them dead in bed!'" The phantom leg duly appeared in a Vogue beauty book, and Despointes face made the Christmas cover, its pearly pimpling combining a sense of the decked out ingénue with a touch of morbid fantasy: the Guy Bourdin look.


BOURDIN who died in March of 1991, at the age of sixty-two is, unlike his contemporaries Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton, scarcely known to the general public; within the worlds of photography and fashion, however, he is something of a legend. When Bourdin was at his best, as in the pages of French Vogue or in his many campaigns for Charles Jourdan shoes, he managed to imbue photographs intended for selling clothing, cosmetics, and perfume with the preternatural vividness of dreams, and he did so with stunning technical virtuosity. Philippe Garner, a senior director at Sotheby's and a respected expert on fashion and commercial photography, says, "There had been nothing like him in the history of fashion photography. Irving Penn's work is infused with respect for women. There's a sexual element in Avedon, though there is a lot else going on, too. But what you see in Bourdin is the linking of two great themes, desire and death. That's what makes the work so disturbing. It's as if he hijacked the medium for his own personal uses. He can be as suffocatingly intimate as Diane Arbus - you feel you have to come up for air." The photographer Albert Watson says simply, "Guy was the closest thing to a fine-art photographer that this business has produced."

In Bourdin's's last years, there was a feeling that he had outlived his time; under such disparate influences as the women's movement and AIDS, the fashion world had fallen out of love with photographs that hinted at decadence, ambiguous sex, and female frailty. A decade later, however, it is waifs and grunge of which the fashion world is sick. The seventies are being rifled, and references to Bourdin are appearing everywhere. Robin Derrick, the art director of British Vogue, says that" the Guy Bourdin thing is completely about to happen, I'm totally convinced. It's the idea of content in pictures." Even Madonna recently told the Times that she was immersed in Bourdin's pictures from the ninenteen-seventies. "They're so sick and interesting," she said. "These girls, you have to see the look on their faces-they're really bizarre."


Yet the apotheosis of Guy Bourdin is proving as surreal as his work. The French newspaper Libération noted in an exasperated obituary, "Guy Bourdin does not exist. Neither in international encyclopedias of photography nor in museum collections nor in specialised book catalogues." It could have added that Bourdin refused to allow his pictures to be collected in books and that in 1985, when he was awarded a nine-thousand dollar prize by the French Minister of Culture, he refused the prize with a barbed note. The situation has only become more confusing since his death. Nine months earlier, Bourdin had deeded his pictures to Martine Victoire, his common-law wife of seven years. The contract was signed and witnessed, but not notarised, and Samuel Bourdin, the photographer's estranged only child, contested it. The resolution was exceedingly French. Victoire got possession of the archives but Samuel Bourdin was confirmed in his droit moral, or moral right, which means without his consent Victoire cannot publish, sell, or even exhibit the photographs she owns. Samuel Bourdin's claim that he owns the reproduction rights is still being disputed in court. In any case, both parties are still appealing the original ruling.

Despointes and another model had been booked for Christmas, 1970, issue of French Vogue, where Bourdin was the leading photographer. He had his makeup man smear each of his models' faces with a thin film of glue, over which he scattered dozens of pearls. "Then Guy decided that he wanted to do the whole body with those pearls," Despointes says. "But he did not know if the whole body is glued it can't breathe. And we blacked out. The editor said 'We can't go any further. These girls will die'. And Guy was saying, 'Oh it would be beautiful - to have them dead in bed!'" The phantom leg duly appeared in a Vogue beauty book, and Despointes face made the Christmas cover, its pearly pimpling combining a sense of the decked out ingénue with a touch of morbid fantasy: the Guy Bourdin look.

GUY BOURDIN was born in Paris in on December 2, 1928. His father owned some land and three small houses on the coast of Normandy; Guy's mother left when he was an infant. He later told people she was a redhead of Spanish stock, and that her break-up with his father was over another man. "Guy never forgave his mother for letting him down," Michel Bourdin, his half brother says. "He was hard with women." Guy's father married another woman and placed Guy in a boarding school. Five years later, his father's mother brought him to live in Normandy and in Paris, where the family owned a restaurant, the Brasserie Bourdin. Michel was born when Guy was fifteen; neither son got much parental warmth. Michel says of his mother, "She was in love only with my father, and he was in love with his business." Guy developed the passions of a solitary child•reading and drawing. He would sit in his grandmother's apartment or in the brasserie, sketching patrons and passersby on paper napkins.

When Bourdin was twenty, he joined the Air Force for his mandatory two years of military service, and worked as an aerial photographer in Dakar. Upon leaving the service, he decided to buy a small photographic business that did wedding pictures and the like in Magny-en-Vexin, a small town close to the family compound in Normandy. His father wouldn't lend him the money, so he took a job in Bon Marché, the Paris department store. He sold camera lenses and, after hours, cleaned floors, saving up to buy photographic equipment. Later he worked as a messenger at the United States Embassy and washed dishes in the Brasserie Lipp; the whole time, he drew, painted, and took photographs.

Bourdin said that Edward Weston's work was what showed him that photography could be art.  But he learned that Man Ray, another leading American art photographer, actually lived in Paris and decided to pay him a visit. Bourdin's friend Jean-Jacques Naudet recalls that on six occasions in1951 the twenty-two-year-old Bourdin banged on Man Ray's door and each time was shooed away by the artist's wife, Juliet, the seventh time. Man Ray himself answered, and invited Bourdin in.

The following year, Bourdin had a show at a small gallery on the Rue de Seine. Among the forty-five pictures on view was one entitled "Rayographs" and a Westonesque arrangement of a wooden table on a wooden floor. Man Ray wrote a note for the gallery's announcement which ended, "I will not say that Guy Bourdin has anything important to show us. I don't like elegies. All the same, I can tell you that Guy Bourdin is trying with all his heart to be more than a good photographer."

In the winter of 1954, Bourdin took some of his work to French Vogue, and caught the eye of Edmondé Charles-Roux, the assistant to the editor-in-chief. Bourdin was a short man with a shock of brown hair, thin lips and a high-pitched voice. "He looked like a schoolboy," Charles-Roux recalls. She was struck by the fact that he was using an antiquated camera with a black cloth, but she was struck more by the images he captured. "They were men and women in the nude, showing only their back or bottom, and sitting," she says. "The subject matter was far from what could have been of interest at Vogue," but the quality she found "exceptional." Bourdin immediately landed his first assignment: a fashion spread on hats.

IT was, given Bourdin's propensities, good timing. The postwar hunger for luxury had permeated fashion, and French Vogue was home to such coolly elegant photographers as Henry Clarke and Karen Radkai. But a new sensibility was stirring too. Bourdin's first Vogue photograph was of a Balenciaga hat with a little veil. Charles-Roux recalls, "Under the voilette on the model's face there was a fly. Or a bee, I think. It was dead, but looked quite alive." Bourdin shot more hat pictures in a butcher's shop, posing one model beneath three skinned calves' heads with lolling tongues.


While his approach may have been startling in the context of Vogue fashion, the Surrealists, whom Bourdin admired would have found it far from novel. Still in those days he saw himself as an artist making a brief detour into the commercial world. The art he made without his camera was enjoying a modest success. The Paris publisher Daniel Fillipacchi bought a canvas, and in the December of 1956 Bourdin had a show of Drawings, collages, and watercolours in New York, at a gallery on the Upper East Side. Much of his work is illustrative-moody female nudes with fleshy contours-but there were also abstract graphics, like wave patterns or bicycle-spoke motifs. Compared with is photographs, it is tame stuff; Bourdin could never accept the fact that the same obsessions he transmuted into great photographs produced only mediocre art. He was always the artist manqué. Charles-Roux says of Bourdin of that time, "I think the greatest shock of his life was when he realised he would never be anything but a photographer. He put a sort of hatred into his photography. And it became worse with the years."

In 1961, Bourdin married Solange Gèze, a secretary from the Dordogne; their wedding picture shows her as a plumpish and pleasant-looking. A few years later, their son Samuel, was born. Serge Lutens, who was Bourdin's creative stylist for seven years, from 1965 until 1972, recalls, "Guy talked about Solange-'She does this! She does that!'" He adds, "But it as if she were enfermée"-walled in.
In the early sixties, when Bourdin was a dominant presence at Vogue, the magazine's accessories editor, Francine Crescent, brought his work to the attention of Roland Jourdan, of the shoemaking firm. Jourdan was looking for a photographer with whom to launch a new advertising campaign, and, although he was surprised when Bourdin insisted for full artistic control ("I could not accept or reject what he did," Jourdan says), he was impressed by Bourdin's talent and agreed to his terms. Bourdin shot a few pictures for Jourdan in 1964 and 1965, and in 1966 he decided to shoot a campaign in New York.

DURING the sixties, advertising underwent a distinct change. Advertising used to be dominated by the "product shot"; while the famous campaigns of the fifties had sold the intangibles of class, they had also shown the merchandise. Bourdin was not alone in demystifying the object, but he was the most radical in his approach. A devoted reader of Lewis Carroll, Bourdin demanded giant shoes for his New York shoot-not theatrical props but meticulous oversized replicas. Gérard Tavenas, who ran Jourdan's Paris office, was appalled, but went ahead and "made real shoes for giant people" as he says.  He adds, "We destroyed a tree for each last."

Bourdin got his pictures. In one of them, an enormous mustard-coloured shoe dwarfs a normal pair outside the door of a hotel room. In another, a young woman has stolen a huge shoe that is the ripe yellow of a New York cab and is fleeing with it in the shadow of the Brooklin Bridge while two cops hunker down, about to open fire. A subsequent campaign, which was shot in France, used tiny shoes, held in giant fingers alongside beautiful faces. The campaigns created a sensation. "It was as if we were publishing not advertisements but a paperback novel or a comic strip," Tavenas says. "People were hungry to see what was next."


While in New York, Bourdin met Holly Warner, a twenty-year-old who worked for a film-production company. Bourdin spoke no English, so Warner who had been an exchange student in Paris, was hired as an assistant and interpreter. She found the Jourdan shoot exhilarating, she says, but ads, "Guy was a very dictatorial person. He had rules that were not aligned with normal behaviour." The weather was brutally cold, and she recalls buying the models foot warmers. "But they would go through anything to get a picture with Guy Bourdin. His attitude was: You are being very well paid for this. There was no human sloppiness. No whimpering or slobbering." Bourdin was also courting Warner furiously, and they started an affair. When he returned to Paris he asked her to follow, and she did.

Bourdin left Solange and Samuel, and in time he and Warner lived together on two upper floors of a house in the Rue du Pélican, near the Louvre. Between Vogue and Jourdan, Bourdin was making a great deal of money, but he was slapdash about finances. "He didn't have an accountant," Warner recalls. "He was bordélique"-chaotic. He kept his pictures in shoeboxes. He would put five hundred francs in a book and forget which book."

His success didn't make him any easier on himself or others. The single word I have heard used most frequently to describe Bourdin is" exigeant" It was a time in which getting a telephone installed in Paris was tough. After several months, Warner managed to have one put in. Three times, Bourdin pulled the cord out of the wall. "He didn't want to be bothered," she says.

At French Vogue, Bourdin demanded and was allowed unique editorial control-another aspect of his exigency. He became ever more autocratic and quirky. Instead of presenting the editors with an array of pictures from a shoot to choose among, Francine Crescent says, "Guy brought us one picture-only the one." Bourdin often destroyed pictures he didn't use by cutting them in half. He would work out images in his notebook, and sets would be meticulously built (A good photographer is first of all a good carpenter," he once said), but just as crucial were matters of colour and lighting. His models might be lit with a wash of limpid purity, the rich glow of a summer storm, or a dreamy luminescence. He achieved such results by seemingly awkward means: sometimes he would bounce light off the outside of one of the studio umbrellas that are normally used to contain it while an assistant danced around holding aloft lights that are normally mounted on tripods.

Although Bourdin maintained a certain formality with models, addressing them almost always as "vous," the experience of working with him could prove unnerving. "Once he wanted a dog to be biting the bottom of my skirt," says Wallis Franken, wife of the designer Claude Montana, who was a model for Bourdin in the early seventies. "So he saw meat all around which made the dog go crazy-it was biting my leg. He would do things like that to see what your reaction was." She continued to work regularly with him, even after that shoot. "I understood his sense of humour, which was very twisted but nonetheless very funny," she says. "If you reacted badly he would push you until you cracked. But I thought he was very funny, so I would become his accomplice as far as other models were concerned. He would make them cry. We were all enlisted. We were all players."

Holly Warner accompanied Bourdin on a shoot in Normandy in 1968. The model on that occasion, Eva Gschopf, was an Austrian with a pale oval face and straight reddish-brown hair. Bourdin, who decided to control the real world as he controlled his studio, hauled rolls of background paper to the sea cliffs and set them behind rocks and trees. "It would be 'How did you get that rock into the studio? Or that tree?'" Warner says. "It had never been done before that. And there was Eva in a little cotton nightgown. With wind and sea coming up. Can you believe I put makeup on trees in the middle of the night? I would shimmy up with some mud and a little eyebrow pencil." Warner was distressed to see, though, Eva was infatuated with Bourdin. Back in Paris the situation became increasingly intolerable-at one point Warner tried to kill herself by slashing her wrists-but eventually she managed to break away from Bourdin. "I'm a survivor," Warner declares. Others close to him were less fortunate.

In the summer of 1969, after Eva had pursued Bourdin for several months, she died in an accidental fall from a tree. "She jumped out of the tree because she thought she was a bird," Bourdin said when he was told. His reaction was at once poetic and unfeeling-that of a child. Soon he was living with Eva's friend Sybille Dallmer, on the Rue du Pélican. Sybille was Austrian, like Eva, whom she much resembled, down to the colour of her hair. A few weeks after they moved in together, Solange Bourdin, Guy's estranged wife, who had been running an antique store in Normandy, died.  Some of Bourdin's friend's say she died of an overdose of pills. Others perhaps, wishing to free him from a terrible burden, insist it was cardiac arrest.

Bourdin rarely spoke of the deaths that touched him, but he seems to have felt that death, like carnal desire, could be transmuted into an imaginative resource. Even so, it is dismaying to hear from his friend Jean-Jacques Naudet that one Bourdin photograph, showing a woman lying supine in bed, is a reconstruction of the death of Solange. That is not obvious from the image. In fact, the picture worked perfectly well as an ad for Charles Jourdan.


SYBILLE was a kindhearted woman, and had Samuel brought from his grandparents in Normandy to live in Paris. Joan Juliet Buck, the editor of French Vogue, who briefly worked for Bourdin as a stylist, recalls the warmth and closeness of life in the Rue du Pélican: family and friends gathered for bibulous dinners with Sybille "kind of housewifey" and Bourdin cutting salami precisely on a red-and-white checked oilcloth on the kitchen table.

The seventies were a productive time for Bourdin. His shoots grew in complexity, and he worked at some images repeatedly, as with one that might be called the Water Nymph. One attempt began with a simple shot for British Vogue of a model swimming naked. "But Bourdin decided the water wasn't blue enough," Grace Coddington says. "So he tried to dye the sea blue. But every time we got it blue enough a wave came in and washed out again. We were trying stronger and stronger dyes. So he decided to have the girl flying over the water. He built a trestle. But the tide came in, and it collapsed. We cancelled the shoot. It cost us a lot of money."

"Spiderwoman," was a setup he tried with Susan Moncur, an American model, and three others, was even more elaborate. Three models were arranged so that only their splayed legs were visible, topped by the head of a forth. Six spider feet were to be sporting Charles Jourdan shoes. The contraption that supported the women was awkward and cut into their flesh. "He started taking the pictures," Moncur says. "And he was saying, 'Oh! Ce n'est pas bien. It's not going to work!' Here we were in pain and suffering and he was saying, 'This is awful!' I was getting really angry. I said, 'You are a sadist!'•I really screeched it out. He was very hurt. He stopped the picture. He refused to go on." She adds wistfully, "My career with Guy Bourdin was finished."


There was, however, a method to Bourdin's heedlessness. Masochism and narcissism pervade the fashion world, and from them Guy Bourdin, toting his own psychological burdens, distilled images of unsettling beauty. "What Guy did," Serge Lutens says, "was conduct his own psychoanalysis in Vogue." In the photographs of the sixties, formal qualities still predominate, and the models even smile from time to time. From the seventies on, Bourdin's stature and power grew, the models seem increasingly lost in dream landscapes; when they do glance in the viewer's direction, they seem as snarly or remote as animals in cages. The few men generally seem to represent caprice of menace.

There are parallels to be drawn between the work of Bourdin and that of Helmut Newton, but Newton has a film-noir sensibility, where Bourdin creates an eroticised fairy-tale world. Newton's pantherine models play in opulent settings, where Bourdin prefers such venues as bathrooms and shabby-genteel hotel rooms. "If there was an enormous hotel, and in it was a cupboard that stank and was two inches square, that's where he would take the picture," the British photographer Terence Donovan told me. "He is the only photographer I've ever seen working that I couldn't figure out what he was doing." Joe Eula' the well known fashion illustrator, says that Bourdin had "a rubber lens."

In his best period, a spread of Bourdin's pictures would be rich in implicit narrative. Sometimes there was an enchanting playfulness, as when five small girls, thickly made-up with lipstick and mascara, lie in a bed beneath the sign "Occupancy by more than 2 persons is dangerous and unlawful." Sometimes he returned to the old-fashioned French farce naughtiness, involving mistresses and housemaids. But the most memorable pictures have an impenetrable strangeness. One picture shows an anguish woman in a phone booth with one hand pressed against the glass. In the foreground are the legs of two women lying on mounds of dirt their torsos covered with newspaper. Behind them is a dark, folkloric forest.


At times, a sort of devilry threw off the delicate balance of Bourdin's work, as when he photographed four models, naked, with each with a single Anthurium leaf gripped between their thighs. The Anthurium is a heart-shaped, blood-red and big enough to cover the pubes, and has a prong-like spadix several inches long. This was schoolboy stuff. So was the shot he got when he had a model support herself on the floor on her shoulders, with her back rising straight up and her head tucked invisibly to her chest. He then had her pull her legs down, so all that the eye and lens saw was a naked back topped by the contours of the behind. In this pose, the model was transformed into an erect penis. According to Joan Juliet Buck, Bourdin managed to get this Duchampian pun published twice in France-once in an advertisement for bath gel-and tried (without success) to get it into Harper's Bazaar.


Usually though, Bourdin's excesses were those of morbidity. Alexis Stroukoff, a French Vogue photographer who worked as Bourdin's assistant in 1977, recalls a shoot in Normandy where the model was required to hold a slab of liver: "It was very hot. Of course there were many, many flies." Stroukoff also recalls a picture that Bourdin took for a record album, showing a girl urinating on a picture of John Travolta [sic-Boz Scaggs]. At a dinner party in 1979, Bourdin told the assembled guests that he wanted to photograph bodies in a morgue and rephotograph them at weekly intervals over the course of a year to record the process of decay.


The morgue sessions never happened, and a lot of the darker pictures that Bourdin did take were never published. One such unpublished photograph, taken for Stern in 1978, showed a naked woman draped across a desk, her throat cut, surrounded by blood.


MICHEL BOURDIN, Guy's half brother, and his wife, Mireille, had cordial relations with Guy and Sybille. They would go to parties in Guy's studio, and the two families would summer in Normandy. Over time, however, the younger couple found the atmosphere increasingly claustrophobic; it was, they recall, as if Guy was using up all the air. "In the end," Mireille says, "I wanted to burn down the house." After 1978, they never went back. "Guy told us we were right to leave," Mireille says.

But Sybille couldn't leave. Isi Valeris, an old friend of Guy Bourdin's, recalls that Sybille "could never even go outside"-that "the Rue du Pélican was Guy's château fort." Mireille Bourdin says, "Sybille was very lively. Then, at the end Sybille was like Solange."

Other troubles beset the household. In the late seventies, for the first time, advertising photographers were required to pay value added tax, which they were supposed to exact from their clients and then remit to the state. "My father thought he was more than commercial photographer," Samuel Bourdin says, and he therefore refused to comply. "When i was twelve years old the fisc"-short for l'administration fiscale, the tax-collection agency-"took a sofa. They took my record-player."

The days of entertaining, of big dinners, were largely over, the family ate sparingly. One morning in 1981, Samuel then thirteen, was making his way home from school. More than a decade later, I walked with Samuel, who is as thin lipped as his father, and is pale guarded and intensely changeable, up the Rue du Pélican as he described what happened when he reached the house that day. "I tried to open the door," he said. "I couldn't open it all the way. It was on a burglar lock, a chain." After a pause, he said, "I had a vision. I saw her hanging there." Sybille had committed suicide, and it was not a decision made on the spur of the moment; she had previously taken her Irish setter to Austria. "Guy said that she did it purposely to annoy him," Mirielle Bourdin says. Soon afterward Samuel was sent to school in the United States. In the mid-eighties, Susan Moncur ran into Bourdin at a fashion show. "I had had champagne, and so had he," she says. "And he explained to me about Sybille's death. It was very intimate, as if all of a sudden he wanted to tell her story. As if he were excusing himself. I think he might have felt himself a bit jinxed."

The year after Sybille's suicide, Bourdin walked into the tax office, denounced the officials as Nazis, and stripped naked. He was thrown in jail. The publisher Daniel Filipacchi and Vogue paid to get him out. "You should have let me stay there," he complained upon emerging. "How wonderful to spend the whole year in prison. Just reading." Guy began to cut himself off from many of the people in his life, among them Michel and Mireille Bourdin and Gérard Tevanas, of Jourdan, who says, "I felt he wanted to break with the past."

MARTINE VICTOIRE, an attractive black woman from Martinique who worked as a pharmacist's assistant, was introduced to Bourdin in the mid-eighties by a friend who worked as a mannequin de charme-a term denoting the modelling not of couture but of lingerie and less. He invited both women to pose for him in Normandy. "It was the best holiday of my life," Victoire says. "Guy cooked rognons and fish. We were his guests."

Victoire wore a raffia skirt for most of the shots, which were, as she puts it, "à l'africaine." She returned to Paris and waited. He finally called at the year's end. The shots hadn't worked, he told her apologetically. But he did come to dinner, bringing orchids and Godiva chocolates. And Victoire says, "we were together forever after."

As the eighties wore on, however, Bourdin began to face professional reverses. Francine Crescent left Vogue in 1987. "It was a shock for Guy," she says. "We were his family. The new team asked him to do some photos. They accepted only two or three, I think." Bourdin was crushed. For the first time he was being treated like an ordinary commercial photographer-worse a photographer whose vision was out of date and whose talent was fading. "In the end it was always too much the same, said Jean Pontiatowski, who was the French Vogue's publisher, says. "Of course he was sick at the time. That's when the edge began to go out of his photographs." Alex Stroukoff recalls that Bourdin had started complaining of stomach pains in1988 and was found to have cancer in in1989. He continued to work occasionally, but his late photographs lack the sense of quirky life; his models look no like dolls but like dummies.

One Saturday in March of 1991, Bourdin called Victoire to say he was in hospital. At his request she brought paper and pencils, and he drew feverishly. On another of her visits, he was in a delirium, taking imaginary pictures.  "Ces mannequins sont tartes," These models are useless. Martine, I asked for Fujichrome not Ektachrome!"

Victoire was with Bourdin on the eve of his death, on March 29th, but Samuel Bourdin, who had arrived from America, made it clear she would be unwelcome at the funeral. Michel and Mireille Bourdin, who had learned of the death only from television, had a chilly greeting from Samuel. A few who knew Martine Victoire supported her in her battle with Samuel over the archive of Guy's photographic oeuvre.

Today, the Bourdin revival is in full blaze, but his ghost is as exigeant as ever. For even if Samuel and Martine do reach an understanding, other problems await them. Bourdin died owing the French government hefty back taxes, and cataloguing and organising the archive, which according to a close friend is now held in fifty-three bags and cardboard boxes-will be a very expensive process. And photographic archives are notoriously delicate. "If transparencies are not housed in a place where the temperature is stable, dust and fungus can destroy them," the inspector general of photography for France's Ministry of Culture says. "I think it is very sad. But I think it is also in the mood of Bourdin's world."