Greatly influenced by the transformation of negative to final print undertaken by Bernhard, Kenna patiently makes every print himself, burning and dodging to perfect the balance of each image. Their work seeped into my blood.” Serene and mysterious, they pause at the interim of past and present, night and day, realism and abstraction, in scenes that invite reverie and reflection. As one of 6 children born to a working class Irish-Catholic family, he initially aspired to enter the priesthood but his passion for the arts led him to The Banbury School of Art where he studied painting and then photography. We feel thoroughly honored and blown away by his humbleness for him to have accepted our request. He himself has said in many interviews that it is quite normal to follow in the footsteps of your heroes. Within a year, and for the next eight, he was printing for Bernhard. My first experience of Michael’s work was, along with many people’s I suspect, his photographs of northern Japan; Hokkaido island in particular. In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, tehre is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. Once there’s someone onstage, all your focus is on that person. His childhood has an immense effect on his way of photography. “Getting photographs is not the most important thing. Michael Kenna was and still is a great influence on me: I've learned so much from Michael's work over the decades that I have followed him (I've been a fan since the late 80's). “I like dim, vague, soft light. Michael Kenna: When I was eleven or twelve, I dabbled a bit and made snaps of my friends, family, etc., and even learned how to process my own film and make basic prints in the darkroom. Michael Kenna fits perfectly into this rich historical vein of celebrated landscape artists who have worked in Abruzzo. Also straying somewhat from his previous work are Kenna’s most recent photos from all over Japan, having traveled there eight times, so far, since the late-1990s. I use photography as a vessel for visual material to flow through, to encourage conversation with the viewer. He loves to perform his penance usually during dawn or night. So I think that’s why, a long time ago, I consciously tried to let go of artist’s angst, and instead just hope for the best and enjoy it. “His images hold a mirror to each viewer’s soul and conscience. The British photographer Michael Kenna deeply impressed Chinese viewers with genuine originality in his solo exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum in 2007. Having been exhibited all over the globe and having travelled to numerous countries with rich natural beauty, It is interesting to learn that Michael Kenna was initially trained as a priest before he actually took up photography once moving to london. Pichler’s wife, Maya Ishiwata, who represents Kenna in Japan, and who joined him and his camera there for some days, tells me, “We’d be driving or walking, and he’d see a place that he’d return to the next morning or late afternoon by himself,” but not necessarily to take pictures. There are many question marks, and I like photographing them.” It gives room for his imagination, and ours, to try to answer. More early influences, Michael Kenna. Ever since, Kenna’s influence has been spreading across China. Good is in them as much as, and maybe more than, evil,” says Pierre Borhan, director of Patrimoine Photographique, in an email to me. The sense of touch with every page and photograph will remain forever. If I wasn’t a photographer, I’d still be a traveler.” In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. In “Cloud Shadows, Study 2” (1998), taken in Mont St. Michel, Normandy, France, two silhouetted steeples of this medieval Benedictine abbey lunge into a gossamer luminosity that veils the structure’s uppermost phantom-like spires. The hand-stuffed dolls in “Marie-Lise and Tom-Bu-La” (1994) gaze at us with utter faith in the make-believe. For more on his books, including Michael Kenna: A Twenty Year Retrospective, Hokkaido, and Night Work, see michaelkenna.net Michael has several upcoming exhibitions, including Hokkaido Exhibition at Shin Sapporo Gallery, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, from Oct 19-31, and as part of group exhibition Comme une Respiration at the Musee d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg in … In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. After a year at the Banbury School of Art, Kenna applied to the London College of Printing in both the graphic design and commercial photography departments, figuring he’d go with the one that accepted him first (he graduated from the latter, in1976). Kenna’s work often evokes the influences of Romanticism. The rest he gave to the Caen Memorial, a museum for peace in Caen, France. His books include Forms of Japan and Rouge, which is a study of the US industrial heartland. That shows in his photographs.” Stone steps stretched at an angle climb up to a giant, shadowed vessel, and in the distance, a row of conical topiary trees jab into a hazy hillside, in “Covered Urn, Study I” (1987), taken in Versailles, France. Author of some wonderful books Michael Kenna continues to inspire us through his astounding art creations. By Claire Sykes More interpretive than documentary, Kenna’s images facilitate our gaze, so we can never forget. Having watched quite a few videos of our master, the first thing that striked me is the passion and curiosity for him in search of divinity. He himself has said in many interviews that it is quite normal to follow in the footsteps of your heroes. The process of photographing becomes more meaningful and complex, because it encourages self-reflection. “Then, there’s a certain tension in the light; it changes by the minute,” he tells me. “I was around all this amazing imagery, photographs by very famous people I hadn’t even heard of. Of his collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 1976 exhibit, The Land he says, “I saw an extremely powerful atmosphere, in his skies full of nostalgia and melancholy, his profound use of night photography with dark shadows and no details, and his sense of melodrama. He abandoned those in his teen years and discovered his talent for art, unheard of in his family who would have considered his interest an improbable livelihood option. These Photographs are words of emotions, sometimes silence and at times the music from a bird’s feather flock. First, he’d serve as an altar boy and attend seminary school (for seven years, until age 17), with dreams of the priesthood. Genuine, authentic, wonderful photography!! These works of art are hard for us to call them photographs for the language it speaks and the silent emotions they provoke. “We’ve created these stories for ourselves, and all the while water keeps lapping, in a Zen, organic way. He’s a pictorialist, in the modern sense of someone who creates pictures with real feeling. “In such a large landscape, it’s very difficult for me to feel the presence, the memory of humans, and the sense of impending action.” Raised in a small country with little wilderness, he prefers instead the re àlationship between humans and a more intimate landscape. The more you get yourself out there, whether you wake up at 5:00 a.m. to pouring rain or not, the more you’re likely to experience the wonderful happenings that are going on all around you,” he says. “Sometimes he just wanted to say thank you to the trees. Greatly influenced by the transformation of negative to final print undertaken by Bernhard, Kenna patiently makes every print himself, burning and dodging to perfect the balance of each image. For 12 years, Kenna photographed Nazi concentration camps, visiting 27 of them, sometimes repeatedly, from 1988-2000. Michael Kenna is one of the most influential landscape photographer of his generation, photographing for 50 years, best known for his black & white landscapes. The photo’s crepuscular temperament lends a temporal quality that is at once eternal and evanescent, as if it emergING from a dream. While pursuing his hobby of landscape photography (pretty pastoral scenes to escape from his industrial roots), he took every chance to practice his craft, commercially. It’s no surprise that as a child Michael Kenna wanted to someday be a priest. In 1977, when Kenna moved to the States, to San Francisco (where he still lives), “I saw that galleries existed here and people actually showed and sold their work.” It wasn’t long before he was one of them. Personal and cultural histories leave only their tracks in Kenna’s photographs. Other locales have come with his commercial clients, such as Volvo and Rolls Royce, The Spanish Tourist Board and British Rail, Don Perignon and Sprint. “I gravitate towards places where humans have been and are no more, to the edge of man’s influence, where the elements are taking over or convering man’s traces.”, “I do have strong convictions and political opinions, but I don’t think it’s necessary to imbue my photographic work with them. Michael Kenna and the Ford River Rouge Complex At the beginning, it was mentioned that the Ford River Rouge Complex has inspired artists since its inception; Diego Rivera completed a set of murals of the plant in the 1930s; Robert Frank photographed the workers of the plant in the 1950s. Kenna's interest in fine art photography was triggered after viewing "The Land" an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1975, curated by Bill Brandt. It’s what’s left behind that I like to photograph.” It kindled in me the desire to know more about the Holocaust, taught only briefly at school,” he says. It’s always moving, transforming and uncontrollable.” He prefers to work in black-and-white, viewing it as “more mysterious than color. And he doesn’t always need film to do it. The story Chris Pichler of Portland, publisher of Nazraeli Press based in Tucson, Arizona, tells is one of the “ghost-like presence” that he feels in Kenna’s work, especially his industrial landscapes. It may be a quest to capture the unseen or an exploration towards much bigger things. Kenna travels around the world constantly photographing the varied landscapes of the planet, including China, the United States of America, Brazil, Czech Republic and Egypt. An international marathon runner (and, from what I hear, a mean karaoke singer with a knack for Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones), Kenna literally has raced to some of the places he photographs. Michael Kenna has also stated that he is greatly inspired by the landscapes of Japan, and he has photographed almost the entire country-the results of which were published in a book named after the nation. Ribbons of Birkenau railroad tracks stream out to a sentinel of trees in the misty distance. About Michael Kenna. Kenna’s night photography also has informed the way he works in the darkroom. After further study in London, he worked as a commercial photographer and printer before relocating to the USA. He photographed theater dress rehearsals, and for record companies and the press; assisted other photographers, and sold stock photos of such luminaries as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cornell Capa, Marc Riboud and Jacques-Henri Lartigue for the John Hilleleson Agency on Fleet Street. I keep admiring the beautiful-innocent light, subtle-simple elements and his utterly brilliant placements of them inside a frame. “In this way, my photos are more like haiku than prose.” His next project has him following the Pilgrim Trail, in Shikoku, spending a month in Buddhist temples, the subject of yet another Nazraeli Press book, due in 2005. Other times, you think you’re getting something amazing and the photographs turn out to be boring and predictable. Instead, I like giving room to imagine yourself onstage, with the landscape as the place where your own dramas can unfold.” The glassy rows in “Painting Jars” (1994) and the light-drenched marbles in “Games in the Sun” (1997) crouch down to a child’s eye level. Michael walks through the forests of mist and into the trails of nowhere. He’s willing to plough his own furlough, remaining consistent and true to his own vision, in opposition to the pressure of the establishment.” Kenna’s style has something different from western landscape photography. My exposure to Japan markedly changed the way I view the world and photograph the world. Here, light originating at the mount’s base braids itself up through fractured isosceles shapes fanned out in shades of gray. Hilltop Trees by Michael Kenna. Kenna’s work often evokes the influences of Romanticism. 50 Dec. 03 - Jan. 04 by Brooks Jensen When I look at this photograph, or any of his, really, I see what he means when he says, “Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.” In a similar vein of influence, Michael Kenna has stated that he thinks of his work as "more like haiku rather than prose." Even more unsettling in its hint at the unknown is “Plank Walk” (1992), in Morecambe, Lancashire, where a teasing perspective shoots the parallel edges of the horizontal boards to just short of a single point in this image of a pier that tricks us into believing it’s floating high above the water. Following Bernhard’s lead, he burns and dodges, emphasizes stormy cloud and shrouds of light (sometimes turning day into night, and vice versa), and crops out the superfluous. I did not mention her under influences, but she has been a very powerful one. Kenna keeps the soul in his work, perfect but still human. Recently, at the Oregon Coast, I did just that, until the cry of seagulls began to lift open the day. “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. She wrote a very kind and flattering introduction for my new book: Michael Kenna - A Twenty Year Retrospective. “People use them all the time, leaving their energy and memories behind. The big element for me was going to Asia in the mid-1980s. To translate words of emotions through monochrome landscapes is an innovation into our medium of photography. I try to present a catalyst and invite viewers to tell their own stories.”. In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky.” Says Stephen Wirtz, of San Francisco’s Stephen Wirtz Gallery, who has represented Kenna since 1978, “Even though they’re landscapes, there’s a figure-ground in Michael’s work that is more sculptural than painterly.” And he strongly believes “Fortune favors the one, who works hard”. Nevertheless, it is true. With access granted to only a few, Kenna scaled to the very top for “Clin d’Oeil a Brassai” (1998), named after a Brassai photograph of Notre Dame. And I thought to myself, What would Kenna’s camera do with this moment? Like weeds strangling a neglected lawn, a heap of wire-rimmed eyeglasses lay snarled and knotted in Auschwitz. They were just reductive copies of the experience of being there,” he says. Michael Kenna has some wonderful books to his name, which are very compelling for any art and photography enthusiast. It’s about the relationship between the exterior and the interior, a potent concoction in a creative human being.” Brandt’s subject matter also resonated with Kenna who recognized in his photos the English gardens and countryside landscapes, and the northern towns in which he had supported his local rugby league team. I was a big fan of the work he produced in the late eighties/ early nineties. Speaking about his personal stature, Michael Kenna is an English Photographer who loves to capture the incredible nature with some beautiful light. You can’t help but get close to Kenna’s unusually small, mostly eight-inch-square, prints. An amazing view for us to discover how passionate this man is towards art and nature. A great deal of Michael’s personality is always in his photographs.” Listening is as important as anything else.” Taking inspiration – An interview with Michael Kenna. Where they end up no one knows, as in “Tow Path” (1984), in Blackburn, Lancashire. “Life is about turning up. Before that, my influences were European photographers. While some may criticize Kenna’s work as being overly romantic and atmospheric, Bill Jay, a photographic journalist in San Diego who has known him for 25 years, has this to say: “The reason I like Michael’s photos is because they’re antithetical to the unemotional, deadpan work of his contemporaries. Kenna’s shorter, daytime exposures soften the fluidity of water, a common element in his work, especially when juxtaposed with the rigid structures of humanity. Many of Kenna’s images fictionalize time even further with his camera’s elongated exposures, elaborating on the elasticity of the light that dwells at dusk and dawn. In large part with Kenna's help Coughlin would serve as alderman of the ward for 46 years. Required fields are marked *. “There’s a deeper satisfaction when you have a long-term relationship with a place. Michael feels meeting a new place is gaining a new friendship, thousands of unexplored landscapes in a faraway land just for our masters arrival. The same benign stance in Kenna’s concentration camp photos shows in his images of the Ratcliffe Power Station in England and the Rouge Steel Works in Dearborn, Michigan. “We may feel connected, but we come here alone and leave alone, with no idea of what will happen next. Michael Kenna Biography. Born (in 1953) and raised in the chemical manufacturing town of Widnes, Lancashire, Kenna grew up with five siblings in a poor, working-class, Irish-Catholic family. I loved seeing that photography isn’t all about the exterior world. In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. It’s also well paid and has enabled me to work on other projects.” Occasionally, Kenna thinks of somewhere he’d like to visit, and three weeks later he’s there, like Easter Island. “I do have strong convictions and political opinions, but I don’t think it’s necessary to imbue my photographic work with them. Then there are his photos of the kindergarten classroom contents from the Waldorf School attended by his daughter, Olivia (now 18). Burnished water mirroring a sky mottled in shadow pulls itself toward pilings gathered there like a flock of geese. “The whole object of the game was to see how long it took before I went back to find them,” he says. Instead of the lurk of shadows and clouds fraught with foreboding, a quiet buoyancy dominates in images like “Usoriyama Lake” (2002), in Osorezan, Honshu, with its seamless, opaline water and sky, interrupted only by a line of pilings, like sumi brush strokes on rice paper. its really amazing monochrome, Your email address will not be published. “I like the confrontation between the two,” he tells me. What he presents in the picture is suggested. “Commercial work is very challenging. “It was all about time, change, memory and patience.” England, Italy, Mexico, Vietnam, India, and many more. His images of ruins stir up feelings of passing time, of the constantly evolving ties between history and nature. In a sense it’s like meditation. By alan frost on June 19, 2018 I believe that all creative people, whether they are painters, sculptors or indeed photographers can be inspired by viewing the work of the most famous and successful artists in their field of expertise. ... English art and aesthetic theories had a major influence on the development of ideas about landscapes, their construction and representation, not only in Great Britain, but throughout the world. “Pier Remains” (1990), in Bognor Regis, Sussex, England, is a perfect example. Of his collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 1976 exhibit, The Land he says, “I saw an extremely powerful atmosphere, in his skies full of nostalgia and melancholy, his profound use of night photography with dark shadows and no details, and his sense of melodrama. Kenna is well known for his night photography. His images of ruins stir up feelings of passing time, of the constantly evolving … Michael Kenna’s world travels. For Kenna, these images allude to the “solitary aspect of the journey through life,” he says. jet- lagged at two a.m. at a hotel in the Catskills Mountains. Though empty of people, his photos of intimate landscapes are filled with the evidence of humanity. He revisited these places after Brandt’s death in 1983, both as a homage to Brandt, and to photograph them himself. Possessing such influence despite his short stature and unassuming presence, he and Coughlin constructed a … Often working at dawn or during the night, he has concentrated primarily on the interaction between the ephemeral atmospheric condition of the natural landscape, and human-made structures and sculptural mass. Michael Kenna was born in Widnes, England in 1953. He’s always off for somewhere else. Aiming his camera at a swing set, he bracketed from 1/30 of a second to one hour. Kenna travels around the world constantly photographing the varied landscapes of the planet, including China, the United States of America, Brazil, Czech Republic and Egypt. Shows the magnificence of composition, the excellence it can provide and elevate your photograph or artwork to a totally new level. It’s a reflection or interpretation of reality, since most of us see in color all the time.” “I may point a finger, but I try not to make judgments,” he says. The photos of Josef Sudek, Eugène Atget, Charles Sheeler and Harry Callahan also shaped Kenna’s work, which stands in contrast to that of Ansel Adams’. Minimalism and simplicity (influenced by Japanese haiku) Black and White; Abstract, Long exposures; Atmospheric, ethereal Michael Kenna (British, b.1953) is a photographer who was born in Widnes, England, and is best known for his photographs of black-and-white landscapes. The same goes for photographing, as if Kenna knew he was practicing then for the lifelong profession he had yet to realize. This all emanates in Kenna’s black-and-white images—of parks and power stations, bridges and Buddhist temples, Easter Island and Auschwitz. A Phenomenal Photographer known for his stunning moodaholic monochrome Landscapes. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. He sees in his work that unpopulated interval between acts of a play, when “there’s a tension in something about to happen and the mind lets loose in a stream of consciousness, wondering and questioning. Today Kenna acknowledges the influences of Brandt, Atget, Emerson and Sudek - as well as Americans, Ruth Bernhard, Callahan, Sheeler and Steiglitz - on his personal photography. I try to present a catalyst and invite viewers to tell their own stories.” Michael Kenna (born 1953) is an English photographer best known for his unusual black & white landscapes featuring ethereal light achieved by photographing at dawn or at night with exposures of up to 10 hours. Six Ticket Counters, Grand Central Station, New York, USA 2000 © Michael Kenna Clin d’Oeil a Brassai, Mont St. Michel, France 1998 © Michael Kenna Viaduct, Berwick, … In one, he’d write his name, the date and time, and some observation on pieces of paper, then hide them in the house or park across the street. Which I believe only a few photographers have been able to achieve out of their own originality. I’ve always been intrigued with water—oceans, strong waves, mist, fog, rain. I still consider Michael Kenna one of the daddy's of landscape photography and I believe him to a heavy influence among many other photographers. 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