Timeless: Fifty Years of Mastery – Michael Kenna

Opening: Friday, May 12, 2023 5 – 10 pm
Friday, May 12 – Jul 15, 2023

Morgan Arts Complex
3622 S. Morgan
Chicago, IL 60609

About Michael Kenna  

One of the most celebrated photographers in the last century, Michael Kenna's photographs are held in the permanent collections of over 100 leading museums worldwide including the Art Institute of Chicago, Bibliotheque National de Paris, Musee du Louvre Museum, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and many more. Michael is also a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Lettres in France.

In the beginning, Michael worked as the assistant and printer for the renowned photographer Ruth Bernhard, making prints in her kitchen darkroom, under her supervision, along with endless conversations that shaped his approach to his craft. Michael learned a great deal from Ruth. Particularly impressive to him was the creativity she had with the negatives to achieve compositional and tonal precision. As Michael says, "a good print should demand to be observed, constantly.”

Michael has a distinctively unique minimalist quality to the composition of his images. He takes a very deliberative and reflective path for his images enjoying slowly setting up, considering, observing, and thinking before he photographs. He has used the same medium format analog film cameras for almost 40 years and all his images are done on film preferring the “long, slow journey of the sliver medium”. Several of his images are captured on multi-hour-long exposures, loving the long exposures where he waits and contemplates. During long time-exposures, the real can become surreal.

What differentiates Michael from so many photographers is that he doesn't just take the photograph Michael makes every print himself, in his own darkroom, burning and dodging to perfect the balance and produce these jewel-like images. This process for half a century is truly unique in its consistency; photographs taken in '70's are indistinguishable from a photograph taken today all glowing to their fullest potential with Michael’s patient, attentive and caring process. Old-school he knows – but truly the work of a rare master.






Image: The Eiffel Tower, Study 3, Paris, France, 1987. 

Copyright Michael Kenna