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Michael Kenna's Temporal Poetics

photo-eye Gallery Michael Kenna's Temporal Poetics Delaney Hoffman
photo-eye Gallery features work from gallery artist Michael Kenna!


Michael Kenna, Ratcliffe Power Station, Study 18, Nottinghamshire, England, 1984, Gelatin-silver print, 6x9″ image in 16x20″ mat, $2500

Michael Kenna, though now known internationally as a master photographer and darkroom printer, once wanted to be a priest. The artist spent seven years in a Catholic seminary boarding school while growing up in Northwest England, and though a career in the clergy wasn’t what Kenna was destined for, the discipline and reverence that he was surrounded with as a young boy are still legible in his photographs today.

Formally stunning and masterfully printed, Michael Kenna’s images present themselves with a simplicity that allows them to criss-cross over time and space. Each subject of Kenna’s lens, whether it be in France, Italy, Japan, or his own Northern England, is granted the same level of intense time and attention. 

In general, Kenna’s images are exposed for an hour or more, completely erasing the presence of individual humans passing through, while the marks they make and the structures they build remain as defining features of the landscape. Through his brilliant compositional eye, the viewer is able to see straight through Kenna’s image-making process, literally. All that the viewer is left to interpret are the visual features of the landscape that captivated the photographer, with all other noise having been erased by strategic shutter speed. 

There are few photographers working today who utilize minimalism and the compositional motif of the line so effectively as Michael Kenna, who drags the viewers' eyes up and down the crags of a city skyline with the same intensity as a gently sloping fence covered in winter snow. Through the simplification of man-made intervention on a landscape to that of an approachable line, or series of lines, Michael Kenna has tapped into a universal sense of elegance that he has been stoking for almost three decades.

View images from Michael Kenna below, and make sure to take a look at his most recent monograph, Northern England 1983-1986, in our bookstore for a view of never-before-seen photographs from the artist’s early work!

>> View Northern England in the photo-eye Bookstore <<

Michael Kenna, Skyline, Study 3, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2009, Gelatin-silver print, 8x8″ image in 16x20″mat, $2500

Michael Kenna, Hillside Fence, Study 4, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan, 2002, Gelatin-silver print, 8x8″ image in 16x20″ mat, $7000

Michael Kenna, Moss Landing Power Station, Study 2, California, USA, 1987, Gelatin-silver print, 8x8″ image in 16x20″ mat, $3000

Michael Kenna, Seven Trees, Castello di Canossa, Italy, 2007, Gelatin-silver print, 8x8″ image in 16x20″ mat, $2500

Michael Kenna, Yuanyang, Study 1, Yunnan, China, 2013, Gelatin-silver print, 8x8″ image in 16x20″ mat, $3500

>> Purchase Northern England 1983-1986  by Michael Kenna! <<

>> Purchase the 2022 Michael Kenna wall calendar! <<

>> Learn about how Michael Kenna thinks about his amazing images <<

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Print costs are current up to the time of posting and are subject to change.

photo-eye Gallery is proud to represent Michael Kenna.

For more information, and to purchase prints by Michael Kenna please contact Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Assistant Delaney Hoffman, or you may also call us at 505-988-5152 x202