My artistic drive restarted about 12 years ago with figure and portrait drawing. I got my first digital camera around the same time, so it only made sense that at some point they’d converge. My drawing skills by that point were not improving, but my photographic skills were getting better and better. As I started looking into figurative and nude photography at the time, my eyes found the images of Mona Kuhn.
The casual posing of the subjects is immediately engaging. So is the realization that these people are completely comfortable in their own skin. This level of comfort and familiarity between the subjects and photographer was something new to me. Mona Kuhn’s body of work is more than just nudes. There is also the techniques she uses to create the images. She likes narrow depths of field, which render most of the figure as blurred abstracts, with slices of sharp detail.
Photo LA is a photo gallery show in Los Angeles each January. I could not make it the first year I heard of the show (I was probably too busy working at the time). Mona Kuhn’s debut as a fine art photographer was at that show. Her prints were selling for about $500 and her first book by Steidl had not been published yet. I did make it to the next year. By that time, it was too late. She’d been priced out of my budget for art. The print prices had quadrupled and more. Large, beautiful color prints were at several of the gallery booths (M+B Gallery and Flowers Galleries) at the show.
Mona Kuhn has pursed her interest in the figure. She has released a few more books. Each improves. With her photography, Mona Kuhn is exploring her own background, interests, and techniques. While in Brazil, she started adding more nature and environment images to the books, in addition to the nudes. “Bourdeaux Series” continues this exploration by setting all the figures in a room in Bourdeax, France and including images from around her rented place.
This book sits well on my shelves of photo books with her previous books. She does not seem as interested in narrow depths of field, but still captures images of people at home in their own skin. The nudes are casual and comfortable and beautiful in their ordinariness. Each could be someone you might know. My own efforts with the subject of the nude is different than Mona Kuhn’s, but her images have had a big impact on mine.