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Château de Haroué : Michael Kenna : Based on Nature, Parks and Gardens


Until September 24th, the Center of the Monuments Nationaux presents the exhibition D’Après Nature, Parcs et Jardins by Michael Kenna at the Château de Haroué.

A tireless globe-trotting photographer, a great master of black and white landscapes, Michael Kenna has been exploring the theme of man-made nature for five decades now. From Europe to Asia, the exhibition shows remarkable landscape compositions that “make a picture”. Some very expressive figures of trees complete the selection of these sumptuous prints that the photographer himself produced with care and exacting standards.

Heir in his own way to the artists of the Grand Tour, Kenna is a solitary photographer, often nocturnal, who tracks down unique atmospheres. Since his beginnings, he has paid constant attention to parks and gardens, to these landscapes skilfully composed by man. However,  human figures as such remain absent from all his production, which only evokes the human through his traces or his works. “In all my work, (…) there is an underlying theme which is that of memory, of time, of change, of atmospheres which seem to be linked to places”, declares the artist. It is indeed the real place, beyond the exploitation, of a touristic or industrial nature, of which it is the subject, that Kenna tirelessly seeks. His landscapes manifest themselves in a pure happiness of expression at the antipodes of the approach which would consist in postulating resonances between a state of mind and a place. In this selection, where France holds an eminent place, the classical landscape compositions of Versailles, Saint-Cloud, Vaux-le-Vicomte or the Anglo-Chinese garden in the desert of Retz near Paris, are so many studies, in the sense pictorial of the term, coming to constitute sumptuous series.

The figure of the tree gives the opportunity to extend to Asia the exploration of the theme of domesticated nature. The approach remains the same. There can be no question for the artist of bending the vegetation to his vision. The photographer humbly puts himself at the service of his subject: “I like to get to know a tree intimately… I have a good time walking around it, I try to get to know it. In fact, it’s as if I was talking to him. I try to be respectful and above all I like to come back to him two years, five years later, as often as possible.

Sabine Troncin-Denis, curator of the exhibition


Michael Kenna : D’Après Nature, Parcs et Jardins
Until September 24th, 2023
Château de Haroué
Place du Château
54740 Haroué, France

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