Michael Kenna

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Michael Kenna is one of the most acclaimed landscape photographers of his generation. His photographs have been the subject of some 50 monographs and are held in the collections of over 100 museums worldwide. He is represented in the United Kingdom by Huxley-Parlour gallery.

Works

Ponte San Niccolo, Firenze, Italy, 1998

Michael Kenna

Eighteen Birds, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Night Docking Poles, Venice, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Triangle Gatherine, Higashiura, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Philosopher’s Tree, Study 1, Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Twelve Hours Over Sea Of Okhotsk, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Homage To Kertesz, Gramercy Park, New York, Usa, 2003

Michael Kenna

House Backs, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, 1984

Michael Kenna

Quiet Snow, Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Lake Bridge, Hongkun, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Kussharo Lake Tree, Study No 6, Kotan, Hokkaido, Japan, 2007

Michael Kenna

Lone Tree, Bibaushi, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Structure And Thirty Six Posts, Lake Biwa, Honshu, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Lijiang River, Study No 5, Guilin, China, 2006

Michael Kenna

Nandaro Box, Nayoro, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Kurosawa’s Trees, Study 1, Memanbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Skyline, Study 3, Shanghai, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Single Boat, Kerala, Backwaters, India, 2008

Michael Kenna

Flatiron Building, Study 2, New York, Usa, 2003

Michael Kenna

Asparagus Sticks, Study 2, Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, 2007

Michael Kenna

Plane And Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil, 2006

Michael Kenna

Full Moonrise, Chausey Islands, France, 2007

Michael Kenna

Woodpile, Karlstejn, Czechoslovakia, 1990

Michael Kenna

Kussharo Lake Tree, Study No 8, Hokkaido, Japan, 2008

Michael Kenna

Hillside Fence, Study 4, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan, 2008

Michael Kenna

Hermitage And Frozen Neva, Study 1, St Petersburg, Russia, 1999

Michael Kenna

Don Quixote’s Giants, Study 5, Campo De Criptana, La Mancha, Spain, 1996

Michael Kenna

Teotihuacan, Study 1, Mexico, 2006

Michael Kenna

Mussel Posts, Chausey Islands, France, 2007

Michael Kenna

Shellfish Walls, Chausey Islands, France, 2007

Michael Kenna

Tree And Mountain, Suizenji Joju-En Garden, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Winter Seascape, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Ratcliffe Power Station, Study 46, Nottinghamshire, England, 2003

Michael Kenna

Midtown From Downtown, New York, Usa, 1998

Michael Kenna

Hillside Fence, Study 5, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Don Quixote’s Giants, Study 8, Consuegra, La Mancha, Spain, 1996

Michael Kenna

Hillside Fence, Study 3, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Frozen Landscape, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

White Goose Pathway, Huangshan Mountains, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Tower Bridge, London, England, 2007

Michael Kenna

Snow Fence, Shosanbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Afternoon Light, Shibeca, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Five Trees, Toya Lake, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Filey Early Warning Station, Yorkshire, England, 1981

Michael Kenna

Taushubetsu Bridge, Nukabira, Hokkaido, Japan, 2008

Michael Kenna

Stark Outlook, Kucharo Lake, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Topiary And Column, Northamptonshire, England, 2005

Michael Kenna

Chrysler Building, Study 3, New York, Usa, 2006

Michael Kenna

Graceful Oak, Broughton, Oxfordshire, England, 2005

Michael Kenna

Charles Bridge, Study No 9, Prague, Czech Republic, 2007

Michael Kenna

Matin Blanc, Blue Beach, Nice, France, 1997

Michael Kenna

Tranquil Boat, Grand Canal, Versailles, France, 1996

Michael Kenna

Bamboo Harbor Guides, Study 2, Hinagu, Kyushu, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Torii Gate, Shosanbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Moonlit Path, Vezelay, Bourgogne, France, 1998

Michael Kenna

Four Birds, St Nazaire, France, 2000

Michael Kenna

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, 1990

Michael Kenna

Night Shadows, St Malo, France, 2000

Michael Kenna

Channel Crossing, Calais, France, 1997

Michael Kenna

Asparagus Sticks, Study 1, Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, 2007

Michael Kenna

Basilica Di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Italy, 1980

Michael Kenna

Campo San Vio Viewpoint, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

East 40th Street, New York, Usa, 2006

Michael Kenna

Fishing Nets, Smarlacca, Veneto, Italy, 2006

Michael Kenna

Giza Pyramids, Study 5, Cairo, Egypt, 2009

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains, Study 42, Anhui, China, 2010

Michael Kenna

Lijiang River, Study 4, Guilin, China, 2006

Michael Kenna

Midtown Twilight, New York, New York, Usa, 2006

Michael Kenna

Night Lights, Rio De Janiero, Brazil, 2009

Michael Kenna

Perspective Of Trees, Tsarskoe Selo, Russia, 1999

Michael Kenna

Reflected Tree, Hongkun, Anhui, China, 2007

Michael Kenna

Seaweed Beds, Jeung-Do, Shinan, South Korea, 2012

Michael Kenna

Seven Posts In Snow, Rumoi, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Six Gondolas, Giadini Ex Reali, Venice, Italy, 1980

Michael Kenna

Skyline, Study 3, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2009

Michael Kenna

White Copse, Study 3, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Charles Bridge Study No 10, Prague, Czech Republic, 2007

Michael Kenna

Manhattan Bridge, Study 1, New York, Usa, 2006

Michael Kenna

Tea Estates, Study 1, Kerala, India, 2008

Michael Kenna

Winding Wall, Mont St Michel, France, 2004

Michael Kenna

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Study 1, Bordeaux, France, 2012

Michael Kenna

Sadakichi’s Docks, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan, 2012

Michael Kenna

Andaman Sea, Study 1, Thailand, 2012

Michael Kenna

Floating Seaweed, Jeung-Do, Shinan, South Korea, 2012

Michael Kenna

Alley Of Trees, Damyang, Jeollanamado, South Korea, 2012

Michael Kenna

Corridor Of Leaves, Guastalla, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2006

Michael Kenna

Sixty Trees, Nakafurano, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Yuanyang, Study 1, Yunnan, China, 2014

Michael Kenna

Yuanyang, Study 5, Yunnan, China, 2013

Michael Kenna

Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 10, Kotan, Hokkaido, Japan, 2005

Michael Kenna

Maple Tree In Autumn, Kyoto, Honshu, Japan, 2001

Michael Kenna

Snow On Pebbles, Toya Lake, Hokkaido, Japan, 2009

Michael Kenna

Mt Shari, Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan, 2013

Michael Kenna

Andaman Sea, Study 1, Thailand, 2012

Michael Kenna

Three Trees At Dusk, Fain Les Moutiers, Bourgogne, France, 2013

Michael Kenna

Le Desert De Retz, Study 8, Chambourcy, Yvelines, France, 1988

Michael Kenna

Le Desert De Retz, Study 21, Chambourcy, Yvelines, France, 1988

Michael Kenna

Cours La Reine, Paris, France, 1987

Michael Kenna

Tree, Seine And Quai Voltaire, Paris, France, 2013

Michael Kenna

Octagonal Basin, Parc De Sceaux, Hauts-De-Seine, France, 1996

Michael Kenna

Pebbles And Beach House, Cayeux-Sur-Mer, Picardie, France, 2009

Michael Kenna

Eighteen Hedges, Versailles, France, 1998

Michael Kenna

Pont Des Arts, Study 3, Paris, France, 1987

Michael Kenna

Ault Cliffs, Study 1, Picardy, France, 2009

Michael Kenna

Axial Panorama, Sceaux, France, 1990

Michael Kenna

Bassin De Latone, Versailles, France, 1997

Michael Kenna

Diving Boards And Cruise Ship, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France, 1997

Michael Kenna

Falaise D’aval Et Nuages, Etretat, Haute-Normandie, France, 2000

Michael Kenna

Five Canopies, Chausey Islands, France, 2007

Michael Kenna

French Canal, Study 2, Loir-Et-Cher, France, 1993

Michael Kenna

Jardin Des Plantes, Study 1, Paris, France, 1988

Michael Kenna

Lace Factories, Study 2, Calais, France, 1987

Michael Kenna

Lace Factories, Study 5, Calais, France, 1998

Michael Kenna

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Study 2, Bordeaux, France, 2012

Michael Kenna

Early Morning Storm, Calais, Pas-De-Calais, France, 1998

Michael Kenna

Fountain Of Flora, Versailles, France 1988

Michael Kenna

Invitation To Prayer, Mont St. Michel, France, 1994

Michael Kenna

Lace Factories, Study 17, Calais, France, 1997

Michael Kenna

Mont St. Michel, Normandy, France, 1991

Michael Kenna

Night Landscape, Hautvillers, France, 2001

Michael Kenna

Pebble Beach, Ault, Picardy, France, 2009

Michael Kenna

Pont De La Tournelle, Paris, France, 1995

Michael Kenna

Reflecting Trees, Saint Valery Sur Somme, France, 2009

Michael Kenna

Rising Tide, Ault, Picardy, France, 2009

Michael Kenna

Saint-Michel D’aiguilhe, Le Puy-En-Velay, Auvergne, France, 2013

Michael Kenna

Seven Pollarded Trees, Chapaize, Bourgogne, France, 1998

Michael Kenna

Soiree, Beau Rivage, Nice, France, 1996

Michael Kenna

Window And Vines, Abbaye De Fontenay, Bourgogne, France, 2013

Michael Kenna

Window View, Chateau D’haroue, Lorraine, France, 2013

Michael Kenna

Passy Metro, Paris, 1991

Michael Kenna

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Study 6, Bordeaux, France, 2012

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 4, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 8, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 9, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 17, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 25, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 27, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 28, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 47, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Afternoon Light, Shibeca, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Seven Posts In Snow, Rumoi, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

White Copse, Study 3, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan, 2004

Michael Kenna

Sheltered Cove, Tojimbo, Honshu, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Sakurajima Volcano, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Chikui Cape Trees, Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan, 2002

Michael Kenna

Above The Clouds, Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Capodacqua Lake, Capestrano, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Castle And Sky, Calascio, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Cemetery Statue, Sulmona, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Corno Grande Reflection, Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Distant Mountains, Passo Delle Cappanelle, Pizzoli, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Gathering Clouds, Casoli, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Gibbous Moon, Lake Campotosto, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Illuminated Statue Of Mary, Gesu E Maria, Pescocostanzo, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Moon Set, Lake Campotosto, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Morning Clouds, Pacentro, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Persimmon Tree, Sulmona, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Poplar Trees, Fucino, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Stone Pine Tunnel, Pento, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Thin Cloud, Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Tree And Gran Sasso, Castilenti, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 1, Chiesa Dei San Pietro Apostolo E Prospero Vescovo, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 6, Chiesa Di Sant’andrea, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2008

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 9, Chiesa Di San Matteo Apostolo, Rossena, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2008

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 13, Chiesa Dei Santi Giacomo E Filippo Apostoli, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 22, Chiesa Di San Giovanni Evangelista In Santo Stefano Protomartire, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 25, Chiesa Dell’immacolata, Concezione, Pieve Rossa, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2008

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 26, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta, Toano, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2008

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 40, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta Nella Cattedrale, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 49, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta, Minozzo, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 45, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta, Gombio, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 52, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta, Minozzo, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 53, Chiesa Di San Michele Arcangelo, Roncaglio Di Canossa, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 55, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta, Felina, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 56, Chiesa Di San Bartolomeo Apostolo, Casina, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 68, Chiesa Di San Filippo Neri, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 70, Chiesa Di San Rocco, Villarotta, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 74, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Nascente, Brescello, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 3, Chiesa Di Sant’andrea, Gualtieri, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2008

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 4, Chiesa Di Santo Stefano (Detta Collegiata), Novellara, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 18, Chiesa Di Santi Pietro Apostolo E Prospero Vescovo, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2007

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 35, Basilica Della Beata Vergine Della Ghiara, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 36, Basilica Della Beata Vergine Della Ghiara, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Curious Cloud, Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016

Michael Kenna

Confessional, Study 30, Chiesa Di San Giorgio, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2015

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 6, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Si Ma Tai Great Wall, Bejing, China. 2007

Michael Kenna

Thirty Bottles Of Wine, Pietrantonj Cantina, Vittorito, Abruzzo, Italy. 2016

Michael Kenna

Vineyard And Stone Pine Tree, Cepagatti, Abruzzo, Italy. 2016

Michael Kenna

Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 12, Kotan, Hokkaido, Japan. 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains, Study No 11, Anhui, China. 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains, Study No 1, Anhui, China. 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains Study 62, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Huangshan Mountains, Study 13, Anhui, China, 2008

Michael Kenna

Early Years

In 1953, Michael Kenna was born in Lancashire, England, into an Irish Catholic family. From an early age Kenna aspired to be a priest and, aged eleven, began studying at a seminary school. However, art quickly became his strongest subject and at the age of 17 he moved to Banbury School of Art in Oxfordshire. He studied painting and then photography, before going on to pursue a degree in photography at the London College of Printing. Initially Kenna concentrated on commercial photography, however, he soon turned to landscapes after seeing the work of Bill Brandt, Josef Sudek, Eugène Atget and Alfred Steiglitz, who were highly influential on him.

Photographic Career

In 1977 Kenna moved to San Francisco where a number of galleries were willing to showcase his work. He quickly settled into life in California where he has lived and worked as a photographer for over thirty years. He is drawn to certain times of day and night, preferring to photograph in the mist, rain and snow. Clear blue sky and sunshine do not inspire him.

He also only photographs his work in black and white, as he believes, “black and white is immediately more mysterious because we see in colour all the time. It is quieter than colour.” He started printing for Ruth Bernard when he moved to San Francisco in 1977 and learnt from the creative license she took with the negative to achieve compositional and tonal precision. 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.

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. However, it is France and Japan that he has returned to most frequently. Kenna looks for interesting compositions and arrangements within the natural landscape. Working in a tradition that owes more to the Romantic landscape painters Caspar David Friedrich, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner than to trends of his contemporaries, Kenna’s vision of the landscape sees the human dwarfed by the grandeur of the natural world. He transforms the mundane into the extraordinary by registering the presence and absence of the human in the landscape.

Kenna prefers to photograph on his own, in silence, creating a sense of calm, solitude and tranquillity in his photographs. As he stated, “I prefer suggestion over description. The world is pretty chaotic, seemingly always speeding up and getting louder and more visually dense. I am interested in finding and/or creating calm shelters from the storm, places where quiet and solitude is encouraged and inner contemplation possible. I think we could all use a break from time to time…”

In many ways Kenna is an anachronistic contemporary to the Pictorialists, the pioneering pre-Modernist movement of photographers that saw the atmosphere of the photograph as central to its emotive force. Like the Pictorialist photography of Alfred Stieglitz, Kenna’s photography places an emotional hold over its viewer through the atmospheric effects of photographing at night, in crepuscular light or in mist, fog and snow. Kenna does not seek to present an accurate copy of the world, but to extract something original and emotive from it. Kenna prints all his own work in the darkroom, ensuring that the tonality of his small, black and white images is evocative rather than informative, interpretive rather than documentary.

His series Confessionals is a culmination of 10-years work, and a departure from his traditional landscape imagery, in which he documents hundreds of Catholic confessional booths. Confessionals is a typology of confessional booths from a distinct geographical region, Reggio Emilia, Italy, and records booths from the 13th century to the present. The project is deeply rooted in his religious upbringing, each booth is uniformly the focal point of each image, framed by the details of the church interior.

Exhibitions and Awards

Kenna currently lives in Seattle, with his wife and children. His photographs are held in permanent collections at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He has been exhibited globally including solo exhibitions in the United States, India, Japan and South Korea. Kenna is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Imogen Cunningham Award in 1981 and in 2003 he was made an Honorary Master of Arts at the Brooks Institute, California.

Interview with Michael Kenna