b. 1953, United Kingdom

Michael Kenna Artworks

Michael Kenna's photographs show high-contrast landscapes shot at unusual hours, often with the exposure drawn out for ten hours at a time, depicting urban structures and nature devoid of occupants.

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Narratives of Place

While Kenna's photographs are devoid of colour, their pointed use of light and composition imbue eerie locations with a vitality of their own. A harbour captured from a distance or a line of trees can appear as universes drawn from a storybook scene.

Black-and-white gelatin silver prints like Maoi, Study 50, Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island (2001) or Circle of Stones, Easter Island (2000) show the landscapes of Easter Island with a hint of strangeness, either compressing the statues along a horizontal line, or capturing the scene slanted from afar.

Other photographs like Yuanyang, Study 1, Yunnan, China (2013) show smog descending on rice fields along sloping hills—atmospheric and stark, the effect of the long exposure time renders visible what lies beyond sight.

Beauty in Simplicity

Referencing the haiku as an analogy for his pictures, Kenna indicates that his photographs do not seek to describe but to suggest. Photographs shot in Japan show lone trees, gates, and bridges in atmospheric conditions, prompting viewers to locate beauty in simple compositions.

Amongst them, the thin hanging tree with sparse branches in Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 9 (2009) offers a silent lamentation on a hillside, while the tree in 'Philosopher's Tree, Study 1', Biei, Hokkaido, Japan (2004) stands tall and reflective on a sloping hill, submerged in a light veil of grey.

Form and Figure

Amongst Kenna's early influences are the British photographer Bill Brandt and Japan's landscapes. Throughout the years, Kenna has photographed almost the entire country, resulting in books like Hokkaido (2005) and Japan (2002).

The same juxtaposition of background and figure notable in Brandt's work can be found in photographs like 'Mina, Study 3, Japan', Rafu, Japan (2010), a monochrome silver gelatin print showing the back of a woman coiled beneath a horizontal shelf. Likewise, in 'Yayoi, Study 1', Rafu, Japan (2008), the partially naked body intercepted from the side is no more physical being than it is pure shape.

Browse Artworks
'Tree Portrait, Study 7', Wakoto, Hokkaido, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography
Michael Kenna 'Tree Portrait, Study 7', Wakoto, Hokkaido, Japan, 2002 Silver Gelatin Print handmade by artist
20 x 20 cm
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'Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 15', Kotan, Hokkaido, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography
Michael Kenna 'Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 15', Kotan, Hokkaido, Japan, 2009 Silver Gelatin Print handmade by artist
20 x 20 cm
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'Maki’s Washi Flowers, Study 1', Hokkaido, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography
Michael Kenna 'Maki’s Washi Flowers, Study 1', Hokkaido, Japan, 2020 Silver Gelatin Print handmade by artist
20 x 20 cm
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Blackstone Hill Tree, Hokkaido, Japan. by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography
Michael Kenna Blackstone Hill Tree, Hokkaido, Japan., 2020 Silver gelatin print
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'Yayoi, Study 1', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Yayoi, Study 1', Rafu, Japan, 2008 Silver Gelatin Print handmade by artist
20 x 20 cm
Blue Lotus Gallery Contact Gallery
'Mina, Study 3, Japan', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Mina, Study 3, Japan', Rafu, Japan, 2010 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
Blue Lotus Gallery Contact Gallery
'Line of Trees', Biei, Hokkaido, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Line of Trees', Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, 2012 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'Red Crown Crane Feeding', Tsurui, Hokkaido, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Red Crown Crane Feeding', Tsurui, Hokkaido, Japan, 2005 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'Fumie, Study 2', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography
Michael Kenna 'Fumie, Study 2', Rafu, Japan, 2016 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'Uiko, Study 8', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Uiko, Study 8', Rafu, Japan, 2015 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'Midori, Study 1', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Midori, Study 1', Rafu, Japan, 2016 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'Mina, Study 6', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Mina, Study 6', Rafu, Japan, 2010 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'h.ferraro, Study 2', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'h.ferraro, Study 2', Rafu, Japan, 2011 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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'Shoko, Study 1', Rafu, Japan by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna 'Shoko, Study 1', Rafu, Japan, 2015 Silver Gelatin Print
20 x 20 cm
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Capodacqua Lake by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Capodacqua Lake, 2016 Silver gelatin print
19.7 x 19.7 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Trabocco Punta Aderci Study 2 by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Trabocco Punta Aderci Study 2, 2014 Silver gelatin print
20 x 20 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Morning Bird Song by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Morning Bird Song, 2002 Silver gelatin print
20 x 19 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Corno Grande by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Corno Grande, 2015 Silver gelatin print
19.7 x 19.7 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Persimmon Tree by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Persimmon Tree, 2015 Silver gelatin print
20.3 x 19.7 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Moon Set, Lake Campotosto by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Moon Set, Lake Campotosto, 2015 Silver gelatin print
20 x 20 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Distant Mountains by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Distant Mountains, 2015 Silver gelatin print
19.7 x 19.7 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Waterfall by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Waterfall, 2003 Silver gelatin print
19 x 19 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Passing Time by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Passing Time, 2002 Silver gelatin print
19 x 19 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
Biwa Lake Tree Study 5 by Michael Kenna contemporary artwork photography, print
Michael Kenna Biwa Lake Tree Study 5, 2007 Silver gelatin print
19.7 x 19.7 cm
Galerija Fotografija Contact Gallery
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