The Michael Hoppen Gallery presents an online exhibition which delves into the fascinating world of Kati Horna (1912-2000), one of most intriguing photographers of the 20th century. Her legacy spans photojournalism, art photography and teaching, created over the course of a career that spanned seven decades and five countries.
Born Katalin Deutsch Blau in Szilas-Balhás, Hungary, Kati Horna rejected definition by any of the places she lived. Both cosmopolitan and avant-garde, Horna is mainly known for her photos of the Spanish Civil War taken between 1937 and 1939, for an album commissioned by the Spanish Republic, as well as her friendship with the legendary Magnum founder Robert Capa. Her work is characterised by the influence of the principles of surrealist Photography and her own moving approach to photojournalism and documentary photography. The violence and injustice that forced Horna to take flight across Europe informed her attitude to photography, which remained socially engaged without conforming to the prevalent social documentary style. Horna’s bold eye for graphic juxtaposition and her urgent concern for recording political brutality at a personal level won her commissions throughout the turbulence of the 1930s.
Horna had long considered photography a vehicle for independence, giving her a political voice through which she could express radical ideas at a time when such opportunities were extremely limited for women; Her Spanish pictures display an acute concern for the experience of women at war and their changing role in modern society. This preoccupation with women’s representation is further developed in some of the most celebrated series of her Mexican career, prominently illustrated in publications including Mujeres: Expresión Femenina (Women: Feminine Expression) and the experimental journal S.nob.
Kati Horna’s indomitable attitude is summed up in a mantra fondly remembered by her colleagues and students: ‘The camera is not the obstacle, it is one’s self!’
Photography enables one to show, liberate and develop one’s sensibility. […] At the moment of pressing the shutter you had to keep the image – let your emotion, discovery and visual surprise flow – the moment had to be kept in your head. That’s what I call developing one’s visual memory – Kati Horna
Kati Horna : A Lifetime’s Work
Online exhibition dates:
30 November 2021 – 7 January 2022
Michael Hoppen Gallery
PL10 Pall Mall Deposit | 124-128 Barlby Road | London | W10 6BL