Michael Kenna


When it comes to masters of landscape photography, few can match the work of Michael Kenna. He sees and photographs not only the natural and built landscape, but the ethereal atmospheric conditions that exist long after sunset and at dawn.

The first time I saw Kenna's work in person was at a private gallery in Atlanta, and I had never seen anything quite like the nighttime images of the Ratcliffe Power Station in Nottinghamshire, England. These were rich, bold and incredibly powerful images beautifully printed in black and white. His sense of composition and photographic design struck me then as impeccable, and still does today.

Kenna has produced more than 20 books and catalogs throughout his career. Perhaps not surprisingly, my favorite is Le Notre's Gardens: Photographs by Michael Kenna, with text by Eric T. Haskell. The book originated as a catalog for an exhibition of 40 photographs at The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art at The Huntington in 1997. The book features revised text and 20 additional photographs. The photographs were taken at Chantilly, Courances, Fontainebleau, Les Tuileries, Marly, Petit Trianon, Saint-Cloud, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Sceaux, Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versaille--eleven of Le Notre's most notable classic French gardens.

Kenna's most recent books have been as noteworthy for their production qualities as for their exquisite photographs. Hokkaido, which was published in 2006 by Nazraeli Press, was printed with special black ink on heavy, uncoated Japanese paper stock, bound in wooden maple boards, and housed in a sleek slipcase.

Here is a short profile of Kenna produced by Giving Something Inc. that includes an interview with the photographer.