Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Geof Kern


Anaïs Nin

Geof Kern's photographs are exhibited around the whole world.

He has earned critical acclaim in traditional areas of commercial photography, such as fashion (spreads for Esquire and Spy Magazine), still life (Life Magazine) and narrative illustration (New York Times Magazine).

However, nearly alone among artists of his stature, Kern hasn't produced a monograph yet.

For ten years he has been turning away proposals to do so.

Perhaps it's his genuine fear that a book might date and define him - as "surrealist", "cubist", "constructivist" or even as the much-dreaded "post-modernist" - or dare compare him to Magritte.

Although Kern is sought after for fashion spreads (from designer Matsuda in Tokyo to Selfridge's department store in London) he doesn't consider himself a fashion photographer - in fact, he still claims to be "an artist with a small 'a'" (G. Kern).

Avoiding big name models, Kern prefers acquaintances, neighbours or his children to stand in for his shots.

Kern's process of photographical creation seems rather paradoxical:

Before even touching his camera, Kern draws the original idea for his photograph on a storyboard.

Very anticlimatically, his finished photographs look just like those drawings.

Unlike many other photographers, Kern avoids every source of accident and improvisation to enter his pictures.

He thus combines the rationalism of photography with the conceptualism of illustration.

It's this very ambiguity that makes his style so unpredictable and distinctive.

Perhaps Kern's way of working - the storyboard sketches, the choice of industrial and sterile sets and locations - can be explained by considering a past passion:

In his twenties Kern set out to direct films but balked at the collaborative nature of the process.

His conclusion from this experience:

“I’d rather not put words into my pictures.”




Short biography

1950 born in New York City

1990 Most Innovative Video Of The Year
(feat. Suzanne Vega)

1993 Infinity Award in Applied Photography
(New York)

1995 Best Advertising Campaign
(Time Magazine)

1998 moves to Dallas

2000 A. Eisenstaedt Photography Award For Magazine Photography

2000 a selection of Kern's work becomes part of the permanent collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Louvre, Paris


"I think I'm a dadaist at heart."

"Photography is ipso facto surreal. It distorts reality. It makes you believe what you're seeing."

"I don't have much time to pour the wine and muse over relics of the past. I think of myself as just a guy who shows up for work every day."

"I come from a poor background. I didn't know anybody. I didn't have connections. I had a child who had brain cancer. And I thought that I could make money more quickly in still photography."


Geof Kern at Life Magazine

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