Richard Kern has been photographing girls of the “hot” or “interesting-girl-next-door” variety for over 30 years. The photographs are straightforward, hint at documentary, and seem committed to the matter-of-fact reality of the day-to- day. Yet the consistent subtle sense of humor and styling make it clear that the artist has been involved in the construction of the image. The blatant theatrical sexuality of the models or performers, balanced against the rather mundane settings, sets up a dialog between the dynamics of inner and outer life.
On one side of the gallery each 40 x 30” photograph presents a standing girl facing the camera in some arrangement of bra/panties/naked. She is in her bathroom, counter full of personal care items, with sink and mirror behind, lighting fixture above. Holding up one or both hands, she displays her prescription meds. Everything is clear and unambiguous: part personals ad, part infomercial, part performance art.
Hanging on the opposite wall, each girl is seen in a 40 x 30” waist-up portrait in three-quarter view wearing a simple white blouse, smiling. Both the figure and the ground are similar in color and one seems to be blending into the other. In an off-registered double exposure, we see her both naked and clothed. Is she bewitching us? Is it our glasses, our medication, wishful thinking, sexual desire?
Richard Kern was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina in 1954 and attended University of North Carolina at Chaple Hill for his BFA, 1977. He lives in New York City. His photographs and films have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and numerous monographs have been published: Richard Kern: New York Girls, Purr Books, London, 1995; New York Girls, Taschen Books, Cologne, 1997; Model Release, Taschen Books, Cologne, 2000; Richard Kern, Charta, Milan, 2000; XXModels, Fiction Inc. Books, Tokyo, 2001; Action, Taschen Books, Cologne, 2007; Looker, Harry Abrams Books, New York, 2008; Shot by Kern, Taschen Books, Cologne, 2013; and most recently Contact High, PictureBox, New York, 2013.