Michael Kenna

Michael Kenna was born in 1953 in Widnes, Lancashire, England, just 12 miles from Liverpool. At the young age of 10 he felt a calling to a more ascetic life and his parents enrolled him at nearby St Joseph’s College, Upholland.  This was a junior seminary school and Michael trained to be a Catholic priest until he was 18. Spirituality and meditation were important parts of his education. Reaching puberty age, Michael realised the life of a celibate priest was not his vocation. He continued his studies at the Banbury School of Art (1972-73) and finally graduated in photography at the London College of Printing (1973-1976).

In 1976 he first experienced the art gallery scene in New York and a few years later he moved from the UK to San Francisco where, for a while, he took any job he could to survive. However, he particularly enjoyed his years assisting the famous West Coast photographer Ruth Bernhard. Kenna spent numerous hours working with her and learning from her to perfect the craft of analogue printing.

A breakthrough happened in 1981 when he received the Imogen Cunningham Award and subsequently sold out a major exhibition at The Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco. Since then, there have been close to 400 solo exhibitions of Michael Kenna’s work in galleries and museums throughout the world. Kenna has had over 50 books published on his work and has won numerous awards including the “Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture, France. His limited edition fine art photographic prints are in the permanent collections of such important institutions as the National Gallery, Washington, D.C., (USA), the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris, (France), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, (England), the Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, (China), the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, (Japan) and many others.

Michael Kenna currently resides in Seattle, Washington, USA.

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