Presentation

Mona Kuhn photographs beautiful nudes that are not simply about being naked. They are about the body being a residence of who we are as human beings. Through intimacy with her subjects, knowledge of traditional iconography, and technical mastery, Kuhn portrays the complexities of human nature, both tempting and provoking the viewer's imagination.  Her body of work includes images from a French naturist colony and her birthplace of Brazil where she returned after a 20 year absence.

Born in Brazil in 1969, the first child of German parents, Mona Kuhn currently resides in Los Angeles. She has exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe, and South America. Steidl published her past two monographs Photographs (2004), Evidence (2007), as well as her most recent Native (2009). Her work is held in collections such as the Griffin Museum, Massachusetts; the Miami Art Museum, Florida; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; the Sir Elton John Collection, England; and the Buhl Foundation, New York.

Biography


Born in Brazil in 1969, is of German descent and now lives in Los Angeles.

 

EDUCATION
1993
The Ohio State University, BA, Ohio

1996-1997
San Francisco Art Institute, California

1998-Pres.
Getty Research Institute, Independent Studies, Arts and Humanities, Los Angeles, California

 
SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2011
 - Bordeaux, Flowers Gallery, London

2010
 - Native, Flowers Gallery, London
 - Native, Flowers Gallery, New York

2009
 - Native, M+B Gallery, Los Angeles
 - Native, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta

2008
 - Evidence, Jarach Gallery, Venise

2007
 - Evidence, Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco
 - Evidence, Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
 - Mona Kuhn, Estiarte Gallery, Madrid
 - Evidence, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta
 - Less Than Innocent, M+B Gallery, Los Angeles

2005
 - Mona Kuhn, Recent Color Work, Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
 - Mona Kuhn-Close, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia
 - Unbounded Youth, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, California

2004
 - Mona Kuhn-Color, Camerawork, Berlin, Germany
 - New Work, G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, Washington
 - Corporeal Space, Galerie F5.6, Munique, Germany
 - Mona Kuhn - Color Photographs, Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco
 - Still Memory, PhotoEye Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
 - Body Language, Camerawork AG, Hamburg, Germany

2003
 - Somata, Schumann Galerie, Munich

2002
 - Mona Kuhn-recent work, Momus Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia

2001
 - Mona Kuhn-recent work, Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco, California
 - Bare, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, New York
 - Mona Kuhn, Bassetti Fine Art Photo Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana

2000
 - Bei Nahe, Bodo Niemann Galerie, Berlin
 - Mona Kuhn, G.Gibson Gallery, Seattle

1999
 - Mona Kuhn-recent work, Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco

1998
 - Mona Kuhn Nus, Elkis Gallery, São Paulo

1997
 - Mona Kuhn, Tappert Galerie, Berlin

 
GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2011
 - Traummänner, Deichtorhallen Hambourg

2010
 - State of Mind, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

2009
 - On the way to Robert Frank, Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne
 - Au Feminin, Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris
 - Anonymity, Sol Mednick Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia

2008
 - Modern Photographs, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York
 - People and Places, Southwest Center for Contemporary Art, North Carolina

2007
 - Featured Works of Contemporary Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina
 - The Machine, the Body and the City, Miami Museum of Art, Florida

2006
 - The Body Familiar, Current Perspectives of the Nude, Griffin Museum, Boston

2005
 - Portrait & Figure Study in Contemporary Photography, Westport Arts Center, Connecticut
 - Face Cachée, Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris
 - The Children's Hour, Museum of New Art, Michigan

2004
 - Il nudo nell'arte, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Bologne

2003
 - Traditions on Figure, G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle

2002
 - March Group Exhibition, G.Gibson Gallery, Seattle
 - Collective, Vickie Bassetti Fine Art, New Orleans

2001
 - Love and Trust, Momus Gallery, Atlanta
 - Best of 2001 curated by Jack Spencer, Cumberland Gallery, Tennessee
 - PhotoMetro, SFAC Gallery, San Francisco

2000
 - German Artists, Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco
 - Among Us, Paba Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
 - Collective, G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle
 - The Body in Art, Francoise Gallery, Maryland, Virginia
 - Nudes from Past to Present, Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona
 - Love, Vorpal Gallery, San Francisco

1999
 - Collective Figurative Artists, Mauritz Gallery, Columbus, Ohio
 - Female Figures, WomanMade Gallery, Chicago

1998
 - Bare Skin, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio
 - Minimal Skin, Museum of Arts Downtown, Los Angeles
 - Collective Figurative, Museum Of Arts Downtown Los Angeles

1997
 - Contemporary Women Photographers, Scott Nichols Gallery, SF, California
 - Brazilian Contemporary Art, Mission Cultural Center, San Francisco


COLLECTIONS

Miami Art Museum, Miami, Florida
Griffin Museum, Winchester, Massachusetts
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California
Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi, Belgique
George Eastman House Museum, Rochester, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego
Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne
The Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation, New York
di Rosa Foundation, San Francisco
Buhl Foundation, New York, New York
Sir Elton John Collection, United Kindom
Paul Allen Collection, Seattle
Allen Thomas Jr. Collection, North Carolina
Schwarz Contemporary Art Collection, Berlin
Nicolaus von Oesterreich Collection, Frankfort

PUBLICATIONS

2009
 - Mona Kuhn Native, Steidl, Göttingen, 88 pp., 65 color plates

2007
 - Mona Kuhn Evidence. Steidl, Göttingen, 96 pp., 54 color plates

2004
 - Mona Kuhn Photographs. Steidl, Göttingen, 108 pp., 33 tritones and 20 color plates.

2002
 - Mona Kuhn artist catalog. Text by Heather Snider. Watermark Press, San Francisco

2003
 - Oceans. Edited by Sue Hostetler. Text by Robert Redford, Vicki Goldberg, and Jean-M. Rizzoli, New York


GUEST SPEAKER

2010
 - Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

2007
 - North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina
 - International Center of Photography, New York
 - Cincinnati Museum of Art, Ohio
 - W PS-1, radio interview with Jill Spalding
 - PhotoLA, Los Angeles

2006
 - Silver Conference, Los Angeles

2005
 - Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California
 - Santa Fe Center for Photography, Los Angeles
 - PhotoLA, Los Angeles, California

2004
 - University of Georgia, SPE Conference, Georgia
 - Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe
 - FotoForum, SFMOMA, San Francisco
 - Camerawork AG, Hambourg

2002
 - Academy of Art, San Francisco

2001
 - Berlin Freies Sender,TV/radio interview, Berlin
 - AT&T cable channel, TV interview, San Francisco

2000
 - De Young Museum, San Francisco
 - Pasadena Art Center, Los Angeles

1999
 - Jewish Museum, San Francisco
 - Bay TV, interview, San Francisco

 
ARTICLES & REVIEWS

2010 
Financial Times, UK
Huffington Post, USA
Eyemazing, Netherlands
Color Magazine, USA
Pen Magazine, Japan
Cousin Corinne, USA
Rosebuzz, France

2009
Snoecks, Belgium
Paradis, France
American Photo, USA

2008
Exibart, Venice, Italy
La Repubblica Newspaper, Italy
Numero 90, France
Paradis, France
Vogue RG, Brazil

2007
New York Post, Page Six
ArtNews, New York
Men's Vogue, USA
L'Officiel Hommes, France
HotShoe, United Kingdom
WWD Scoop Magazine, New York

2006
Miedzy Nami, special issue, Poland
Vogue Korean, Korea
7x7 Magazine, San Francisco
Spoon Magazine, New York, New York
Eyemazing, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Photo Selection, Montreal, Canada

2005
Zoom Magazine, Italy
Hasselblad Forum Magazine, Sweden
British Journal of Photography, London

2004
B+W magazine, Australia
Camerawork Journal of Photographic Art, October issue
Art on Paper, November issue
PhotoNews, Hamburg, Germany, March

2003
Hasselblad Forum magazine, Sweden, November
Monaco Fashion and Style Magazine, Monaco, August
Photovision, portfolio article, June
Freeye Magazine, Munique review, Netherlands, summer
Zyzzyva, fall issue

2002
7x7 Magazine, January issue

2001
Business Week, december
Zyzzyva, winter issue
French PHOTO Magazine, September
die WELT, German newspaper, July
The SF Chronicle Newspaper, April
Best of New Orleans, Gambit weekly, December
New Orleans Times Picayune, December
Neue Presse, German newspaper, November
PhotoMetro Magazine, March
B&W Magazine, February

2000
Photovision Magazine, December
B&W Magazine, June
CBSNews.com, June
Baltimore City Paper, May
Tucson Artreview, May
Arizona Daily, April
Camera Arts Magazine, April
Tucson Artreview, May
Black + White Mag. (Australia), April

1999
Philosophy of Photography, Lusenet, May
Artweek, April
B&W Magazine, April
San Francisco Examiner Mag, March
SF Chronicle Newspaper, March

1998
Veja Magazine, São Paulo, December
Estado de São Paulo Newspaper, November
Zyzzyva, winter issue, October
Columbus Alive Newspaper, February

1997
San Francisco Examiner Magazine, August

1996
Nufoto Magazine, August

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Texts

I was born and raised in Brazil, and lived the first half of my life there. Then 20 years ago I moved to the US.  In the last 15 years I have been spending my summers in France, where I own a place, which I like to think of as my atelier.  The work done at that region has been published by Steidl in "Photographs", "Evidence" as well as "Bordeaux Series". I photograph mostly during the summers, when people feel comfortable and natural in the nude. That leaves the rest of the year for me to concentrate on other aspects of the creative process and the exhibition schedules and at times commercial projects.

I began taking photographs at age 12, when my parents gave me a small Kodak camera for my birthday. The first images were of my friends during that day. In a way, little has changed. I like to photograph people I have known for a while, or good friends of friends of mine. I find people thru word of mouth, someone's boyfriend, sister, cousin. It feels more intimate, a bit like an extended family.

I am influenced by everything, movies, photography, billboards, books, paintings, graffiti. I am looking and absorbing all I can see with my eyes. In regards to photography, early on my strongest influences were Mario Cravo Neto, a Brazilian photographer working mostly with dark figures and nudes. His work is sensational, and early on influenced mine very much. Then when I moved to the US, I was marveled by the work of the twin brothers Starn. It had little direct influence on my personal work, but it opened my mind for taking photography as a serious form of expression. I also love the lifetime works of Nan Goldin, Leon Levinstein and the photography in Julian Schnabel's movies.

It is a privilege for me to be able to photograph my close friends and extended family in the nude, honest and free. I photograph the nude as a natural essence of who we are.  Although we are sexual beings, I am not interested in erotic photography.  I am very respectful of my sitters, and take care to develop a unique visual vocabulary, apart from the mundane. There is enough of that already out there in the world.  I stay away from it.  For me, there is a huge difference between naked and nude.  Someone feels naked when caught off guard and/or in a vulnerable situation. The nude to me is always clothed, clothed with art history references all around, almost in a way that it cannot escape it. The nude I am interested presents an inner strength and confidence that keeps them from "feeling naked".  You can see that in my work, in the natural positions and in the confident eyes of the people I photograph.

I start my creative process by imagining colors.  I don't know why, but coloration comes to me first. From there I tie in emotion, then location and last the people. I might be working 6 months into a project before I find the right person to photograph. This preliminary phase gives me time to submerge, to really feel and bring out what I am trying to say, what I am trying to express.  By the time I start photographing people, I already know what I want, the visual vocabulary is matured, so photographing people feels natural and in line with the overall emotion I am trying to convey.

As i started Bordeaux Series, i knew from the start, it to be a reductive approach: simple traditional portraits done in one single room, along with landscapes of the region. As i imagined the colors early on, i was sure it had to be reduced as well to a basic yet very classic palette: black, white and red.

The black and white paysages were taken mostly during storm weather, moving through landscape, or from the car seat as approaching the area, as well as images of pathways. The portraits cover a cycle of life, as I photographed from young to elderly. As for the landscapes, it presents a similar metaphor. I wanted to bring it closer to an idea of passage, from here to there, without defining it. Like a passage of time, a passage of this to another life. A maze like feeling, of not knowing where that path might ultimately lead you.

I mostly photograph during the magic hours at sunrise and the last 2 hours before sunset. It is not just the lighting, I think we feel different during those moments, as if emotions could stand still for a few minutes. It is beautiful to capture that feeling.

I see the body as a residence to our emotions, our soul, our inner selves.  As we bloom, and as we decay. Two paintings were ressonating inside my mind as i was photographing this series. The first one is from Klimt, titled \"Three Generation Females\" from 1905.  Klimt was part of the Vienna Secession movement, a period of interest to me in art history. The other one is from Gauguin, probably still lingering from the influence it brought to me more directly in Native series.  It is titled \"Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?\" from 1897.  I think it summorizes a question we all have, but one that i decided to use as basis to my creative source. I photograph the human in us, without shame, without regret, free and timeless.

Mona Kuhn

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Press

Mona Kuhn, Bordeaux

Mona Kuhn, Bordeaux

30.07.2012

Pariscope

Mona Kuhn, Bordeaux

25.07.2012

Pariscope

Mona Kuhn - Ce que nous sommes

01.07.2012

Réponses Photo

Exposition Mona Kuhn, Bordeaux

01.07.2012

de l'air

Mona Kuhn, Bordeaux

13.06.2012

Figaroscope

Grand cru

01.06.2012

Têtu

Mona Kuhn, Ce que nous sommes

01.06.2012

Réponses Photo

Le nu selon Kuhn

01.05.2012

The Good Life