by Charles David
I’ve always been attracted to the bold, paradigm-shattering work of Jean Paul Goude.
Through his visually stimulating, socially conscious, sometimes provocative photographs and advertising films he directed, Jean Paul Goude speaks a powerful language of acceptance and toleration. In constant dialog with the French avant-garde, Goude’s work is visibly influenced by girls of color and French colonialism-a result of having grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Between 1968-69, Goude was offered a position as Art Director of Esquire, which he accepted-prompting an immediate relocation to New York City. It was at the tail end of the disco era when the young graphic designer met Grace Jones, a then fresh faced model with big aspirations, who became his muse and mother of his son. For the next three decades, Goude worked on Jones’ commercials, her album covers, music videos, and countless photo-shoots, producing some memorable and thought-provoking works. In 1983, Goude published Jungle Fever, a beautifully illustrated book in full color with Goude’s sometimes outlandish and sexually explicit photos, artwork, drawings and collages. He highlights Latino and African-American models along with everyday people in the most colorful concepts, that are uniquely Goude.
When it was first published over thirty years ago, Jungle Fever broke new ground by exploring traditional concepts and pushing them beyond the bounds of appropriateness and cultural norms. Chances of finding a copy today in perfect condition are slim to none. Depending on what state of affairs it’s in, a copy can fetch anywhere from $200 up to $700 dollars. But, it’s a collector’s item which only appreciates in value with time and is worth every bit of your hard earned cents. On a side note-does anyone remember the super model Toukie Smith who was a long time partner of Robert De Niro, with whom she has two sons? Well, there are some fascinating scribbles by her in this book you’ll find interesting.