2019-05-19 Mona Kuhn Photographs
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On Photography: Mona Kuhn, 1969-present (NSFW)

“The body is a place where our mind resides, and that’s what I’m photographing.” -Mona Kuhn

Mona Kuhn makes fine art with her camera and often unclothed human beings. She is a contemporary, working photographer, who, in addition to her gallery works, has enjoyed a broad career in editorial and fashion. Her clients range from Bottega Veneta to Chanel and Dior. Magazines include Harper’s Bazaar, W, La Monde and Numéro. Her portrait clients are often actors like Liev Schrieber and Tom Hiddleston.

Galleries

Kuhn’s first solo exhibition was held in 1997 at the Tappert Galerie in Berlin. Since then she has exhibited in Europe, South America and across the U.S. Her list of shows is here.

I wasn’t interested in just photographing someone naked, I was interested in representing them as clothed in their own skin, secure in themselves.

Books and articles

Mona Kuhn self portrait
Mona Kuhn Self Portrait

So far she has published seven books and published numerous articles on photography and art. She has worked in both film and digital mediums and has some strong feelings about the immediacy of photography today and how it affects the results.

Digital [photography] has sped up the process to a point that it’s a bit self-destructive. It is like driving by a new neighborhood without stopping for a walk. Special discoveries need time.

One of the best articles about Mona Kuhn I have come across was by Elizabeth Avedon on her blog which features an interview with Kuhn by Heather Snider. It chronicles her return to her native Brazil and how she lives in, works with and photographs people in a naturalist community.

Bordeaux series (NSFW)

The photographs in the opening photo of this edition of On Photography are from Kuhn’s Bordeaux series. The photographs below are of her neighbors in the small French village of La Lande near Bordeaux. The house where these photographs were made has no electricity — just some oil lamps. It is a very simple place. Mona Kuhn describes the scene:

In a tiny room with red patterned fabric and a chair, I am like a small town photogrpaher before a simple stage. My friends come and sit, and I make a portrait of each in the bare light that comes through the double doors, which open to the outside where I stand. It is a rather classic approach to the portrait, which I feel is in sympathy with the plainness and simplicity of the place.

Over recent years, I have photographed my viditors – friends who are closest to me, sometimes friends of friends, who come to stay for a while or at times just for a few moments – just like that, in the same room with the same chair.

I was at the 2012 Jackson Fine Art gallery opening for the Bordeaux Series. Seeing her work on display is breathtaking particularly in the 20 by 20 and 30 by 30-inch versions. Trust me that these works as prints are stunning and so much more beautiful than they appear on a website. The Bordeaux Series book is available on Amazon.

Today

Mona Kuhn continues to create new works featuring the human form now in more abstract ways than shown here. She became an Independent Scholar in 1997 at the J.Paul Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and continues that position today.

Mona Kuhn’s website.

Read more mini-biographies of influential photographers on Photofocus.

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