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Moscow City Government
Moscow City Department of Culture
Russian Academy of Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Pobeda Gallery


Michael Kenna
Date: April 19 — May 22, 2011
Venue: Moscow Museum of Modern Art (25 Petrovka str.)

Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents a retrospective show by the English photographer Michael Kenna. During the last three decades, his name has been inseparably linked with landscape photography.

Born into an English working-class family, Michael Kenna wanted to devote his life to God. But his plans could not come true. In 1976, Kenna arrived in the USA for the first time. There he worked as an assistant to an advertising photographer and as a pressman. Soon Ruth Bernhard, the queen of photo printing, invited him to work in her studio. There Kenna learned secrets of photo developing and photo printing. He realized that a negative provided him with an ample opportunity for creative work. It was «undeveloped land, waiting for the bold plow of the talented farmer».

Michael Kenna`s retrospective covers the most significant periods of his creative work and shows famous landscape photos, made during his travels. Pictures of French provinces and Japanese gardens, American power plants and sculptures in St. Petersburg are among them. Moreover, photos from the «Concentration Camps» series will be displayed in Russia for the first time.

The photographer’s style can be called metaphysical photography, with time and memory as basic concepts. Black-and-white high contrast photos take viewers from the real world to the abstract university of the photographer. Therefore, Kenna’s works can be easily regarded as an ancient painting and a 3D image. They embody the skilful synthesis of the eternal and the momentary. The photographer’s approach to the viewer is also specific. All photos by Kenna have small size. Such format forces one person to watch it from the distance of no more than 30 cm. Kenna intentionally brings us closer to the picture, demanding maximum involvement and frankness in the dialogue with the audience.

Kenna is not a traditional landscape photographer. It is important for him «to know what nature thinks about people’s actions». Kenna photographs at dawn or at night with long exposures. Then he is toiling at negatives. It takes him several years to master some projects.

More than 30 editions are devoted to Kenna’s oeuvre. His landscape photos are in 70 museum and private collections all over the world.

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