Torii, Study 2, Biwa Lake, Honshu, Japan. 2007


(1953 - )

Michael Kenna’s mysterious photographs, often made at dawn or in the dark hours of night, concentrate primarily on the interaction between the natural landscape and human-made structures. Kenna is both a diurnal and nocturnal photographer, fascinated by light when it is most pliant. With long time-exposures, which might last throughout the night, his photographs often record details that the human eye is not able to perceive. Kenna is particularly well-known for the intimate scale of his photography and his meticulous personal printing style.

He works in the traditional, non-digital, silver photographic medium. His exquisitely hand crafted black and white prints, which he makes in his own darkroom, reflect a sense of refinement, respect for history, and thorough originality. During Kenna’s forty-six-year career, his photographs have been shown in over four hundred and fifty one-person gallery and museum exhibitions throughout the world and are included in over a hundred permanent institutional collections. Seventy-five monographs and exhibition catalogs have been published on Kenna’s work.

Michael Kenna’s quiet approach to the environment provides a glimpse into the provocative and subtle serenity of landscape photography. Michael creates dream-like scenes by combining innovative and traditional photographic techniques. The results are soft, stark, enigmatic views of gardens, industrial sites, land, and seascapes from around the world. His photographs suggest contemplation and a poetic vision. Michael is equally dedicated to the darkroom and makes his own prints ensuring a subdued, intimate atmosphere in every image.

Michael grew up in the industrial northwest of England and studied at the Banbury School of Art and the London College of Printing, graduating with distinction in 1976. In London, Michael undertook advertising photography while pursuing his personal work – photographing the landscape. In 1977, he moved to San Francisco, where he met Ruth Bernhard and became her assistant and photographic printmaker for eight years. In 2000, the French government honored with the award of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.