© Fabulorum. José Medio

Jean-Paul Goude is a man born for the limelight. His multifaceted work has already traversed half a century. From his beginnings as an art illustrator to his fully fledged career as photographer, brand and image-maker, he has been the darling of publicists and advertising agency directors. Hard as it is to categorize such a talent, the amassed oeuvre shown at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and entitled “Goudemalion. Jean-Paul Goude. Une retrospective”, reveals to visitors a brilliant self-promoter with a humorous and somehow poetic penchant. Much has been said of his Pygmalion approach to women. In fact, one of the most respected French intellectuals, Edgar Morin, coined himself the term “Goudemalion” to signify his ability to convert into myth living flesh and yet preserve the real creature within the legendary creation. His encounter with Grace Jones in New York in the late seventies shaped much of his personal mythology where he “corrects” rather than creates the personal style of his models. King-size shoulder pads, lofty platform shoes and contrasting human sizes make up for much of his universe. A universe that stays on this side of comfort, pleasing and titillating never straying too far from its self-imposed limits. The French insist in labeling Jean-Paul Goude an “auteur d’images”, a grandiose appellation for such a charming jester. I am not sure of the venue for this show. Paris offers more appropriate locations like the Cirque d’Hiver where I would be inclined to bet that Goude would not last a long season.