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Biography

American/British artist Karen Knorr is known for her sumptuous, conceptually driven photographs that employ opulent palaces, museums and temples of Western Europe and Asia to frame issues of power rooted in cultural heritage.

 

Knorr was born to American parents in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1954 and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She studied art in Paris and London, where she eventually settled in 1976 and still lives today. Her multi-cultural upbringing was deeply influential, especially in the formative years of her career when she used photography to make sense of her world as a young Puerto Rican American assimilating to life in London. Her experience as an outsider is part of what sparked her longtime interest in exploring issues surrounding culture and society.
 
Knorr was also inspired by the artistic practices of friends and contemporaries, including photographers Bill Brandt, Bill Owens and Diane Arbus, as well as conceptual artists Michael Asher, Martha Rosler, Andrea Fraser and Hans Haacke, one of the leading proponents of institutional critique. In the 1970s, Knorr studied under noted photographer Eileen Cowin and artist Victor Burgin, who opened her eyes to new ways of critically engaging with photography and its relationship to institutions and heritage.
 
Over the course of her career, Knorr has used video and photography as a method of critical inquest. Her work has consistently examined the meaning of place, often drawing from folklore, myths and allegories to express contemporary ideas. More recently, her titles reference historic works of literature, such as Aesop’s Fables, the poems of Ovid and ancient epics from India, including the Rāmāyana, the Mahābhārata and the Panchatantra.
 
Knorr uses this layered storytelling approach to distance herself from more literal documentary photography. Lush, playful and spectacularly colorful, her images of exotic animals digitally fused into grand architectural settings are as aesthetically thrilling as they are thought-provoking.

 

Karen Knorr’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at Tate Britain; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; San Diego Museum of Photography, California; Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow; Kyoto Modern Museum of Art, Japan; Seoul Museum of Art, Korea; and the Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai. Her work is in the collections of Tate London, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the United Kingdom Government Art Collection, England; Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Centre Georges Pompidou, France; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan, among others.
 
Knorr was awarded the Photography Pilar Citoler Prize in 2011 and she was nominated for the Deutsche Börse in both 2011 and 2012. She also received nominations for the Prix Pictet in 2012 and 2018. As an advocate for women in photography, she was made an Honorary Fellow at the Royal Photographic Society in 2018, as well as Honorary Chair of Women in Photography.

Knorr is an activist as well as an artist, advocating for transnationality, equality and diversity in the art world. She is a professor of photography at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom.

 

Born in Frankfurt, 1954 | Lives and works in London

Karen Knorr
NY | Chelsea
Karen Knorr
Transmigrations May 5 – June 4, 2022
A Room of Her Own
SINGAPORE
A Room of Her Own
January 14 – April 2, 2022
Karen Knorr
SINGAPORE
Karen Knorr
Migrations September 21 – November 16, 2019
Karen Knorr
Publication
Karen Knorr
Transmigrations
Karen Knorr
Publication
Karen Knorr
Migrations
Bristol, UK
Museum Exhibition
Bristol, UK
KAREN KNORR AT THE ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
Carquefou, France
Museum Exhibition
Carquefou, France
KAREN KNORR AT FRAC DES PAYS DE LA LOIRE
Introspective Magazine
Press
Introspective Magazine
In Karen Knorr’s sumptuous photos, exotic animals appear in opulent palaces 3/18.2022

The Frankfurt-born, London-based American photographer has gone global with her popular "India Song" pieces, and, while her work has long featured figures lingering in lavish spaces, the species of her characters and underlying messages shift drastically from series to series. 

Architectural Digest India
Press
Architectural Digest India
At Singapore Art Week, an all-women show confronts exclusion January 15, 2022

Sundaram Tagore Gallery’s show, A Room Of Her Own, features Anila Quayyum Agha, Tayeba Lipi, Lalla Essaydi, Karen Knorr, Miya Ando, Neha Vedpathak, Jane Lee and Susan Weil.

Art Review Asia
Press
Art Review Asia
Review 10/03/19

Photographer Karen Knorr juxtaposes anthropological studies of the English upper class with her celebrated series India Song (2008–17) at Sundaram Tagore in Singapore.

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