Mona Kuhn was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1969 and is of German descent. She received her BA from The Ohio State University, before furthering her studies at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1996. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is an independent scholar at The Getty Research Institute.
© Mona Kuhn, Daisy, 2014
© Mona Kuhn, Daisy, 2014
Kuhn is well known for her large-scale nude photographs with a very soft and inimitable light, creating a unique dreamlike atmosphere. The LA-based artist took this series over a period of two years and entered into the heart of the American desert, traveling through the Mojave and Arizona regions.
For the ‘Private’ series, Mona Kuhn created a sequence of enigmatic pictures, from female nudes to sun-drenched landscapes and abstract textures. The silhouettes of the women she portrays are delicate and calm, carelessly lying down inviting the viewer into these intimate scenes, as poetic snapshots without voyeurism. Based on the oppressive climate of the American desert, Kuhn also shows the mysterious aura of this region, harsh and breath-taking at the same time, a vast area that allows you to abandon time and forget about space.
© Mona Kuhn, Chanon, 2014
The lines of a window, the transparent layers of curtains, a reflection of the sunset - all these ephemeral moments challenge what is present and what is not. Kuhn’s photography is above all about absence, what is outside and can be seized, what has passed and what is never to return. The natural lights and the graphic dark shadows presented in her work make the scenes hypnotic, like a romantic memory. These disorienting nude bodies and their apparent nonchalance contrast with the extreme conditions of the desert. Is it a fictional vision of reality?
Mona Kuhn’s imagery sources its inspiration from classical painting and the history of American photography, somewhere between Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro and Nan Goldin’s life moments. Light is key; her hazy effects make the pictures abstract in an intuitive way, reminiscent of German painter Gerhard Richter and his reworked photographic sources.
Her work has been exhibited and included in many collections and museums around the world such as the J.Paul Getty Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Pérez Art Museum in Miami, The Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego, the Miami Museum of Art and The International Center of Photography in NYC. In Europe, her work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in London, Le Louvre in Paris, Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Musée de l'Élysée in Lausanne and the Leopold Museum in Vienna.
Kuhn’s first monograph, Photographs, was debuted by Steidl in 2004, followed by Evidence (2007), Native (2010), Bordeaux Series (2011) and Private (2014).