Jean Paul Goude @ Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

Magnificent the Tank Engine
At the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, I saw a retrospective of the work of Jean Paul Goude. Beginning with a huge steam engine standing, imperial, industrial and glorious on a lush carpet, it was full of breath-taking artworks from the minute you mounted the white marble steps. Around the locomotive, portraits of all shades and shapes of the human race, posing, often in military or national dress, on waggon-type trolleys. It was a photo-shoot Goude had done that went some way in recreating the spectacular procession he was asked by the late President Mittérand to choreograph for the 1989 celebrations for the bi-centenary of the fall of the Bastille and, ultimately, the French Revolution. Playing with notions of colonialism, progress and the concept of revolution, the very same engine had gone down the Champs Elysée followed by flotillas representing different peoples of the world, symbolising democratic unity and the international effect of France's bold move for equality.

There were prints and videos of Goude's fabulous fashion photography, a glorious techni-colour mix of powerful, sexual poses and witty puns on the semantics of fashion - the women in heels and couture gowns racing down a running track, through a photography set to the "finishing line" at the end of the catwalk; the black model exploding champagne into a glass perched perfectly on her pert and peachy behind. This was David LaChappelle without the porn and with a much, much longer CV. Starting out as a fashion illustrator in the 1950s before landing a job with Esquire magazine, he was a forerunner in image manipulation long before the advent of Photoshop, using cut-and-stick techniques to exaggerate his shots into larger than life proportions.

The mastermind behind much of Grace Jones's most iconic images, as well as adverts for Galeries LaFayette, I recognised stuff I pasted on my bedroom walls as a kid. The exhibition showcased the wonderful shots of Naomi Campbell done in Africa, the portraits of fashion stars like Thierry Mugler, John Galliano and Marc Jacobs, and the brand new Prada Candy advert that has graced our screens since the run up to Christmas. His "Queen of Seoul" series, taken of his Korean wife, were both stunning and sweet. With both familiar pictures and things I'd never seen before, I felt like I'd both learned a load of new things and as well seen old friends...

Queen of Seoul by Jean Paul Goude
Grace Jones by Jean Paul Goude
Grace Jones by Jean Paul Goude

Jean Paul Goude

Naomi Cambell for Harper's Bazzar, September 2009 by Jean Paul Goude
Thierry Mugler by Jean Paul Goude
Jean Paul Goude
Prada Candy advert, 2011 by Jean Paul Goude

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