Michael Kenna

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Bio

Michael Kenna was born in Widnes, England in 1953. 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. Later he attended The London College of Printing and began working as a photographer and artist. He moved to San Francisco in 1977 where he was astounded by the number of galleries the city housed which allowed artists to showcase and sell their work. San Francisco has remained his home ever since.

Michael Kenna’s work has often been described as enigmatic, graceful and hauntingly beautiful much like the Japanese landscape. Kenna first visited Japan in 1987 for a one-person exhibition and was utterly seduced by the country’s terrain. Over the years he has traveled throughout almost the entire country constantly taking photographs. From these many treks the book Japan, featuring 95 of these photographs, was conceived.

The simplicity and clarity of Kenna’s Japan alludes to rather than describes his subject allowing the viewer to have a completely unique and tailored interpretation. He has described this body of work as, “more like a haiku rather than a prose”; his work being like photographs written in short poem form. Kenna’s photographs are often made at dawn or in the dark hours of night with exposures up to 10 hours. Kenna has said “you can’t always see what’s otherwise noticeable during the day‚Ķ with long exposures you can photograph what the human eye is incapable of seeing”.

Michael Kenna’s prints have been shown in numerous exhibitions throughout the world with permanent collections in the Bibliotheque, Paris; The Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague; The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Kenna has also done a great deal of commercial work for such clients as Volvo, Rolls Royce, Audi, Sprint, Dom Perignon and The Spanish Tourist Board. Japan is one of 18 books of Kenna’s photography to have been published to date.

Books

  • 2017 - Abruzzo (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2017 - Confessionali, Reggio Emilia 2007-2016 (Corsiero Editore)
  • 2016 - Rogue (Prestel Publishing)
  • 2015 - Kussharo Lake Tree (Prestel Publishing)
  • 2015 - Forms of Japan (Prestel Publishing)
  • 2014 - China (Posts and Telecom Press and Timeless Gallery)
  • 2014 - France (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2014 - Confessionali (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2013 - Shinan (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2012 - Thomas Jefferson's Paris Walks (Arion Press)
  • 2012 - Tranquil Morning (Gallery K.O.N.G.)
  • 2011 - In France (RAM, Japan)
  • 2010 - Huangshan (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2010 - Venezia (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2009 - Punta Brava
  • 2009 - Heiden Hotel (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2009 - Love in Black and White (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2008 - Recent Travels (HSBC Holdings, U.K.)
  • 2008 - Michael Kenna (Cavallo Point, USA)
  • 2007 - Mon St. Michel (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2007 - Montecito Garden (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2006 - Hokkaido (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2004 - Retrospective Two (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2004 - Ratcliffe Power Station (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2003 - Boarding School (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2003 - Calais Lace (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2002 - Et La Dentelle? (Marval, France)
  • 2002 - A Twenty Year Retrospective (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2001 - Easter Island (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2001 - Impossible to Forget (Nazraeli Press)
  • 2000 - Night Walk (Nazraeli Press)
  • 1999 - Le Notre's Gardens (Ram Publications, USA)
  • 1997 - Monique's Kindergarden (Nazraeli Press)
  • 1996 - The Silverado Squatters (Arion Press)
  • 1995 - The Rogue (Ram Publications, USA)
  • 1991 - A Twenty Year Retrospective (Treville, Japan)
  • 1991 - The Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing (The Elkhorn Slough Foundtation)
  • 1990 - Le Desert de Retz (Arion Press)
  • 1987 - Night Walk (Friends of Photography, USA)
  • 1986 - The Hound of Baskervilles (Northpoint Press)

Awards

  • 2016 - Special Photographer Award, Higashikawa, Hokkaido, Japan.
  • 2013 - Hae-sun Lee Photography Award, Photographic Artist Association of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2003 - Honorary Master of Arts, Brooks Institute (Santa Barbara, California, USA)
  • 2000 - Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, Ministry of Culture (France)
  • 1996 - Golden Saffron Award (Consuegra, Spain)
  • 1989 - Institute for Aesthetic Development Award (Pasadena, California, USA)
  • 1987 - Art in Public Buildings Award, California Arts Council Commission (Sacrament, California, USA)
  • 1981 - Imogen Cunningham Award (San Francisco, California, USA)

Clients

Adidas / Audi / Bank of America / British Airways / Beringer / BMW / British Rail / Casalgrande Padana / Chateau Lafite Rothschild / Closson Chase / DHL / Haneda Airport / HSBC / Huawei / Infinity / Isuzu / Jeep Chrysler / Landrover / Maserati / Mazda / Mercedes / Moet and Chandon / Nissan / Powergen / Punta Brava / P.S.I. / Range Rover / Rolls Royce / Royal Air Force / Saab / Shiseido / Simpson Paper Company / Spanish Tourist Board / Sprint / Toshiba / Triumph / Volvo