Karen Knorr


Karen Knorr’s Belgrava and Gentlemen, her seminal black and white silver bromide photographs with text produced in the early 1980s exploring family, patriarchy, class and national identity are being exhibited  for the first time at Tate Britain, London (13 October 2014 – October 4 2015). These photographs were part of the Eric and Louise Franck Collection donated to Tate in 2012.

Since her life-changing journey to Rajasthan in 2008, Karen Knorr’s series India Song explored Rajput and Mughal cultural heritage and its relationship to questions of feminine subjectivity and animality. This series of carefully crafted photographs explores the past and its relation to India’s contemporary heritage sites. India song has been recently published by Skira editors in a monograph with a preface by William Dalrymple.

The Monogatari series began in 2012 follows on from India song in considering animal life and cultural heritage and refers to Japanese heritage and myth. Photographed in temples, shrines, ryokans and gardens in Tokyo, Nara, Ise and Kyoto, animals and women in traditional kimonos evoke the screen art and scroll painting of the Edo period (16th century). Knorr is inspired by this rich visual culture which references folktales of the supernatural such as ‘kaidan’  and ‘kami’.


Karen Knorr was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1960s. She finished her education in Paris and London. Karen has taught, exhibited and lectured internationally, including at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The University of Westminster, Goldsmiths, Harvard and The Art Institute of Chicago. She studied at the University of Westminster in the mid-1970s, exhibiting photography that addressed debates in cultural studies and film theory concerning the ‘politics of representation’ practices which emerged during the late 1970s qnd early 1980s. She is currently Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey.

Knorr produced Belgravia (1979-1981) a series of black and white photographs with ironic and humorous texts that highlighted aspirations, lifestyle and the British class system under the neo liberalist Thatcher era in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Her most well known work called Gentlemen (1981-1983) was photographed in St. James’s clubs in London and investigated the patriarchal conservative values of Britain during the Falklands war. Karen ’s work developed a critical and playful dialogue with documentary photography using different visual and textual strategies to explore her chosen subject matter that ranges from the family and lifestyle to the animal and its representation in the museum context.

Knorr is represented by Tasveer, Bangalore, India; Eric Franck and Gavin Grimaldi in London; Filles Du Calvaire , Paris and James Danziger Gallery, New York. Knorr will be showing new work from India Song at Slow track Gallery in Madrid  and her new work will appear in a solo exhibition at Filles du Calvaire Gallery and Paris Photo 2015.