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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Karen Knorr

Dates:  1954, 5 January -
Born:  West Germany, Frankfurt am Main
Active:  England / France
Artist statement: 
Since its beginnings in 1979, my work situated itself in relation to theory and in relation to debates in and around post colonialism, feminism and visual culture. The art practice that interested me was one situated between the photographic image and word; it was and still is rhetorical and allusive to other discursive fields from philosophy and novels through to films and fairy tales. It sets out to investigate the stuff of fine art culture and its legitimising narratives in the late 20th century. My work embraced hybridity and a utopia in the hope that somehow if we can understand our link to culture and the realm of ideas (conscious and unconscious) and practices that underpin it then perhaps we can change it at least just a little bit to make a difference.
An interest in the developed world and fine art culture is the site of my work. I have been keen to develop an “anthropology of proximity”, an engaged and implicated investigation into the ideas myths and narratives which underpin the notion of the high art culture of origins in the developed world particularly academies and museums in Europe. I am continuing this project at the Repin Institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia which I started researching and documenting in November 2003 and have explored the Life Class Room at the Royal Academy in London (2005). An interest in the overlapping concerns of science (the anatomy class) and art (the life class room) continue to fascinate me .
My current interests concern exploring debates concerning “animality” and our relation to nature.In the photographic series “Sanctuary” taxidermised animals of the natural history museum disturb the order of national collection at the Wallace Collection in London. I am presently working on a set of photographs in The Carnavalet Museum, Musee de la Chasse and Menagerie Zoo in Paris which further explores the boundaries between the human and nonhuman and the nature of the collection. I have been awarded a commission to produce new work for the Museum of the Hunt and Nature in Paris for 2008. The work will be exhibited first at The Musee de la Chasse in Jan 2008 and will consequently travel across France where it will be exhibited at various museums.
In 2005 I traveled to Malawi and Mozambique considering a project on the slave trade routes of Africa and I am currently researching the possibilities of producing a set of photographs documenting the African cultural landscape and heritage sites on the slave trade routes. The first stage will be to photograph the slave houses and forts in Ghana and the urban landscape of Accra with Kwajie Kuffour. I am interested in recording the human and animal traces, their traces on the main slave trade routes in Africa and their links to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico ( where I grew up in the 60’s)
I am currently seeking support for two projects which deal with sound glass sculptural installations and a video using animals. The work seeks to extend the current ongoing concern of my work which uses animals to reflect upon our humanity and ethics of being in the world undercurrent religious fundamentalisms and climate change.
(Aug 2007)

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Visual indexes

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Supplemental information

1988-90 University of Derby
1977-80 Polytechnic of Central London
1976-77 Harrow College of Art and Design
1975-76 L´Atelier, Rue de Seine, Paris
1973-74 American College in Paris
1973-75 Franconia College, Franconia, New Hampshire
Solo exhibitions
2009 Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France (forthcoming)
2009 Musée Gajac, Villeneuve sur Lot, France (forthcoming)
2008 Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris, France (forthcoming)
2007 Les Peintres de la vie moderne, Donation - Collection photographique de la Caisse des Dépôts, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
2006 Karen Knorr at Photobiennale, Brescia, Italy
2005 Karen Knorr Fables, Photo & Co, Turin, Italy
2004 Karen Knorr Menagerie, Centre d'Art Quevilly, France
2004 Karen Knorr, Histoires Naturelles, Musée de la Créche,Chaumont, France
2004 Karen Knorr Menagerie, Galerie Blancpain Stepczynski, Geneva
2003 Genii Loci, Les Filles du Calvaire, Brussels
2003 Karen Knorr, Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris
2002 Sanctuary, Miart, Milano, Italy
2002 The Venery, Cheverny Castle, Cheverny, France
2001 Spirits, Palazzo Tafini, Savigliano, Italy
2001 Art Lovers, Geukens De Vil, Knokke Zoute, Belgium
2001 Sanctuary, The Wallace Collection, London
2001 Karen Knorr, Interim Art, London
Group exhibitions - selected
2007 Karen Knorr @ Eric Franck, London Photo, London
2007 Generations, Filles du Calvaire, Brussels
2007 Painters of Modern Life, Centre Pompidou, Paris
2007 Karen Knorr Fables @Art Futures, The Bloomberg Space, London
2007 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Exhibit, Olympia, London
2007 Generations, Filles du Calvaire, Brussels
2006 Tiefenschärfe (Depth of Field), Kunsthalle, Baden Baden, Germany
2006 If it didn’t exist you would have to invent it... a partial history of the Showroom, The Showroom, London
2006 Zoo, Centrale Electrique, Brussels, Belgium (catalogue)
2006 The Painters of Modern Life, Centre Pompidou, Paris (catalogue)
2006 Plug , White Space, County Hall, London
2006 Filles du Calvaire and Photo & co, Paris Photo, Paris
2006 Painters of Modern Life, Centre Georges Pompidou, France
2006 Artexis, Brussels Art Fair, Filles du Calvaire, Belgium
2006 Paris Photo, Filles du Calvaire, Paris
2005 Nutzlich suss museal Das Fotografierte Tier, Folkwang Museum, Essen ,Germany (Catalogue)
2005 Reception,Musee Municipale Robert Dubois-Corneau,Brunoy, France
2005 Echos d'Epoque, Frac basse Normandie, Caen, France
2005 Animalities, Maison's des Art Pompidou, Carjat, France
2005 Et le bonheur...? - Exposition collective, Centre culturel de Marchin, Marchin, Belgium
2005 A Table, Chateau Chamarande, Domaine Chamarande, France
2005 On View: Photographing the Museum, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York
2005 Simulacra and Pseudo Likeness, New Manezh Moscow State Exhibition Hall, Russia
2005 La photographie a l'epreuve: du XIXeme siecle au XX1 eme siecle, Institut d'art contemporain et musee d'art moderne, Saint-Etienne, France
2005 Vigo Council Photography Collection, Portuguese Centre of Photography, Porto, Portugal
2005 Portraits/Autoportraits, Gallery Guy Ledune, Brussels, Belgium
2005 Arco, Madrid Art Fair, Eric Franck, Madrid
2005 Paris Photo, Karen Knorr@ Filles du Calvaire, Paris
2005 Artexis, Karen Knorr @ Filles du Calvaire, Belgium
2004 Femina, Filles du Calvaire, Paris, France
2004 Femina, Filles Du Calvaire, Brussels, Belgium
2004 Tunnel Vision, Daniel Azoulay, Miami, Florida
2004 Art Basle, Art Miami, Miami, Florida
2004 Artexis ,Brussels Art Fair, Filles du Calvaire, Brussels, Belgium
2004 Maureen Paley Interim Art,Art Basel, Basle, Switzerland
2004 Un Air de Famille, Centre National de Lectoure, Toulouse, France
2004 Image/Imatge, Centre de la Photographie, Orthez, France
2004 Natural Phenomena: Horizon Bound, Daniel Azoulay Gallery, Miami, Florida
2004 Paris Photo, Filles du calvaire, Paris
2004 Artexix, Karen Knorr @ Filles du Calavaire, Paris
2003 Connections, James Hockey Gallery, Surrey Institute, UK
2003 Oh So British, Musee des Beaux Arts de Nancy, France
2003 Vigovisions, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vigo, Spain 2003 Fables de l’Identite, Oeuvres photographiques et videos de la collection NSM- Vie ABN AMNRO, Centre Nationale de la Photographie, Paris
2003 FIAC, Filles du Calvaire, Paris
2003 Paris Photo, Filles du Calvaire, Paris
2003 Tunnel Vision: a Contemporary Visual Odyssey, Daniel Azoulay Gallery, Art Basel Dec 4-7 Art Miami Jan 8-11
2002 Critical Dictionary, Mirror Gallery, London
2002 Group Show, Photo & Co. Turin
2002 Le Regard de l’Autre, Dialogue entre les Collections du FRAC Haute-Normandie et du Musee des Beaux Arts de Rouen
2002 La Part de l'Autre, Carre d'Art, Nimes (catalogue)
2002 Love, Labour and Loss, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle
2002 Braga Foto, Braga, Portugal
2002 Et le 5 eme jour...Collections du Fonds National Art Contemporain, Chateau Fougeres sur Bievre, France
2001 The gallery:UNCOVERED, University Gallery, University of Essex, UK
2001 L'Oeuvre de multipliee, Musee d'Art Moderne Lille Metropole, France
2001 East International, Norwich Art Gallery, Norwich, UK
2001 La Bretagne Collectionne L'Art de NotreTemps, Manoir de la Grand'Cour, Taden, France
2001 Group Show, Knokke Zoute, Belgium
2001 Heimsuchung, carte blanche a Rut Blees Luxemburg, FRAC Pays de la Loire, Salle Mario Toran
2001 Landscapes/Paesaggi, Convento dei Cappucini, Caraglio, Italy
2005 Commission for Le Musee de la Chasse et la Nature
2003 Printemps des Musees French Ministry of Culture and NSMD Bank
2002 Images au Centre 02, France for The Venery
2001 The Arts Council of England
1998 Hasselblad Foundation Research Grant (Sweden)
1993 London Arts Board Grant
1986 National Endowment for the Arts (USA)
1985 GLAA Award
1980 GLAA Award
1980 Arts Council Bursary
1979 Thames T.V. Bursary
The Arts Council of Great Britain
The Government Art Collection of England
National Media Museum, Bradford, UK
British Council Collection
Centre Georges Pompidou
Cabinet des Estampes, Geneva
The Chase Manhattan Bank
The Cartier Foundation
Folkwang Museum, Essen
FNAC, France
FRAC Acquitaine,France
FRAC Bretagne, France
FRAC Lorraine, France
FRAC Rhone et Alpes
FRAC Haute Normandie
FRAC Basse Normandie
Heiting Collection, Germany
L’Hoiste Collection, Belgium
Hokin Collection, Chicago
Lamarco Collection, Geneva
Lambert Bank Collection
MAG Collection
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
Norton Collection, Los Angeles
NSMD Bank Collection, Paris
Palomon Collection, London
The State of Geneva Collection, Switzerland
San Francisco Museum of Art
Texaco Corporation, London
Towner Art Gallery Collection
Uppsala Museum of Modern Art
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Vigo Council, Spain
Warburg Bank, London
Winnepeg Art Gallery, Canada
© 2007 Karen Knorr  

Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Karen Knorr.] 
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