Jean-Paul Goude has been dubbed the best photographer in the world by Andy Warhol. Goude’s career has spanned over thirty years, and has traversed photography, drawing, poster design, event design and video. His photographs convey a mix of classic chic, androgyny and a playful approach to sexuality. His commercial work has created some of the most iconic modern-day advertising campaigns, whilst his striking fashion shoots have graced countless pages of Esquire. Most recently, Goude has used online exposure to generate a huge media buzz through his work with Paper Magazine’s ‘Break the Internet’ campaign. Goude has consistently used his talent and connections to shape photography’s place in modern life.
Born in France, Goude began his artistic career as a student at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, after which he became an illustrator. This background had a lasting impact upon Goude’s future work. In his own words: “I’m an illustrator. I do hundreds of sketches, so I know what I want”. Whilst forging a career in illustration, Goude’s attention was captured by commercial fashion photography. Goude reminisces that “the advertising, in the 1960s, was extraordinary. The first time an issue of Esquire arrived with a cover by George Lois, I said to myself, that’s what I want to do." Goude’s wish came true, as he became the full-time editor of Esquire magazine in 1968. Throughout the 1970s, Goude used his position to push the boundaries and influence the future of fashion photography.
As well as pursuing magazine photography, Goude has had an illustrious career in taking photographs for commercial advertisements. Luxury fashion and retail brands, such as Chanel and Galeries Lafayette, allowed Goude to experiment with classic Parisian chic. In the process, Goude created some of the most iconic high-end advertisements of modern times. Goude’s other clients have included Kenzo, Perrier, and Kodak. Goude imbued these campaigns with a sense of fun and playfulness, both in print and on film.
Goude’s celebrity connections have been well-publicized, both in the 1970s and today. Goude’s most famous professional and romantic relationship was with the model-turned-singer-turned-actress, Grace Jones. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Jones was Goude’s muse, and the focus of countless photo shoots and monographs. Some claim that Jones’ celebrity was a direct result of Goude’s intense interest in her. However, the relationship was symbiotic- the enduring popularity of many of Goude’s images developed from using a model as striking as Jones. It is difficult to think of another modern model with such a potent mix of androgyny, sexuality and power.
Goude has maintained his relevance to contemporary celebrity culture. In 2014, he undertook a shoot featuring Kim Kardashian for Paper Magazine’s infamous ‘Break the Internet’ campaign. Goude based one particular image on his 1976 work, ‘Carolina Beaumont’, also known as the ‘champagne incident’. This image was used in a 1976 Esquire spread called ‘French Correction’, which played with the changing proportions of people’s bodies. In work such as this, Goude revolutionized manipulation of body image long before Photoshop ever existed. Almost forty years later, the Kardashian image created an even bigger buzz via the internet, generating millions of views very quickly. Goude has proven himself to be forward-thinking in his methods of attracting and manipulating viewers. However, questions have been raised about his portrayal of the relationship between sexuality and race, as some people point to problematic and out-dated stereotypes within his images.
On top of his photography career, Goude has been involved with a variety of other media. In 1989, he was hired to choreograph the Bicentennial Parade in Paris, which marked the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. The extravaganza involved artificial snow, a troupe of Sengalize ballet dancers, and a marching band performing hits by James Brown. Goude has also forayed into the realm of television advertisements. In 1984, his shoot for Kodak followed the adventures of the mischievous kids known as the Kodakettes. In 1992, he filmed an advertisement for Chanel, in which he placed Vanessa Paradis in a bird-cage, because he thought she looked like Tweety Bird. Goude’s imagination and sense of fun has followed his work across a range of projects.
A number of monographs of Goude’s work have been published, such as Jungle Fever (1981), So Far So Goude (2006) and The Goude Touch: A Ten-Year Campaign for Galeries Lafayette (2006). Goude has been exhibited at a number of illustrious institutions, including the Issey Miyake Museum in Tokyo, the Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image in Nice, and was the focus of a retrospective at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.