Sexually-charged images: Meet the man who ‘broke the internet’

CNN  — 

In November 2014 an image of Kim Kardashian naked, balancing a glass of champagne on her rear, fronted an issue of Paper Magazine. The phrase “break the internet” was written across it.

Although the world wide web did not cease to function, the amount of media coverage and social engagement that resulted from the incident certainly slowed things down.

The series of images was shot by 75-year-old French photographer graphic artist, designer, photographer and film director Jean-Paul Goude, and was in fact a recreation of an image he originally created in 1976 titled Carolina.

A history of attention-grabbing imagery

For those who aren’t familiar, Jean-Paul Goude has been crafting culturally-defining imagery since the late 1960s when he started out working as an art director for Esquire. Widely accepted to be one of the best in his field, the image of Kim Kardashian is just one of many instances in which he has both shocked and amazed.

His sexually-charged, meticulously crafted, and often irreverent, photographs and video work are instantly recognizable, with women at the fore of his lens. The likes of Naomi Campbell (riding an elephant for Harpers Bazaar), Bjork, French actress Farida Khelfa and of course model-turned-singer Grace Jones – a former girlfriend with whom his work is often associated – all feature in a retrospective exhibition currently on show at Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan.

Unwavering interest

“So Far So Goude” has been in circulation for almost a decade, borne from a 2005 book of the same name. The longevity of this travelling exhibition is a testament to the interest that still exists for Goude’s work.

Featuring 240 artworks from the mid 1960s to present day, including sketches, advertising campaigns, editorial work and even updates of iconic, sometimes surreal imagery – such as a cut and pasted version of Grace Jones’ Island Life album cover.

Many of the sketches which are featured depict his detailed method of planning and art directing shoots. He was also one of the first experts in retouching and image manipulation, long before computers made this possible.