With an essay written by Françoise Reynaud, Photography historian and curator at Musée Carnavalet in Paris.
Published to accompany the eponymous exhibition at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire in France, this catalog gathers a stunning selection of photographs of trees by English-born, Seattle-based photographer Michael Kenna (born 1953). For over 50 years, Kenna has been traveling around the world with his camera immortalizing trees and forests in his signature ethereal lighting, which he achieves by working in the early morning and late-night hours, and through his use of extremely long exposure times, often lasting up to 10 hours. Captured exclusively in black and white, these idyllic images are divorced from both seasonal and geographical context, emphasizing the diversity and plurality of the photographed specimens. On rare occasions, the existence of human civilizations peeks through in his work: some road sections, buildings, fences and stakes or, more surprisingly, slippers, constitute the only traces of human presence. This flattening of setting and simplification of subject allows us to reimagine the colors that are traditionally associated with trees and focus on the interaction between the opaque, delicate black of their branches and the fleecy light that filters through them, generating the wonderful atmospheric effect so distinctive to Kenna’s photography.
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