Richard Kern is both controversial and hugely respected as a photographer and film-maker operating at the boundaries of the art world, the music scene and the sex industry. His fascination for the aesthetics and problematics of voyeurism and pornography, and his willingness to play a part in these industries has given him a significantly active perspective on this area of image-making, and the key to many of his photographs is his subversion of the 'rules' of pornography. Born in North Carolina in 1954, he has lived and worked in New York City since 1979, where he was drawn to a particular downtown scene. In the eighties, he produced a series of extreme short films that now are recognized as the central works of the 'Cinema of Transgression'. Films featuring Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth, David Wojnarowitcz, Audrey Rose and Clint Ruin depicted characters shooting up, piercing and cutting themselves, or performing violence towards each other, over harsh soundtracks produced by Jim Thirlwell. Since the 1990s he has concentrated solely on photography, making subtly subversive and seductive photographs of young female models posing in a variety of ordinary environments, and often engaged in routines such as hair-drying, squeezing spots or using eye-drops. These images have been published in key books such as 'New York Girls' and 'Model Release', alongside more explicit sexual posing. Kern occasionally directs music videos for bands like Sonic Youth and Marilyn Manson. He is a regular contributor to a variety of international publications.

Selected Bibliography

  • Kern Noir, Charta, Milan, 2002
  • XXMODELS, Fiction Inc Books, Tokyo, 2001
  • Model Release, Taschen Books, Koln, 2000
  • Richard Kern, Charta, Milan. 1998
  • New York Girls, Taschen Books, Koln, Lisboa, London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, 1997
  • XXGIRLS , Fiction, Inc. Tokyo, Japan. ISBN 309-90161-C0072, 1996
  • Richard Kern, New York Girls, Purr Books, London, ISBN 1-90010610-8, 1995

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • Feature Inc. New York, 2004
  • Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2004
  • Gothenburg Bienial, Göteborg, 2003
  • ICA, London, 2002
  • Roger Björkholmen, Stockholm, 2000
  • Kunstverien Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg, 1999
  • Center for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 1998
  • The Deep, Tokyo, 1995
  • FourFiveFive, San Fransisco, 1990
  • You Killed Me First, collaboration with David Wojnarowitz, Ground Zero, New York, 1985

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • Richard Kern - Soft Jousse Entreprise, Paris Trade, 
White Columns, New York, NY, USA 2005
  • Educational Books, HOTEL, London, 2003
  • Martha Grahan, ConTEMPary, New York, 2003
  • Strip and Tease, Aeroplastics Contempary, Brussels, Belgium, 2002
  • Kim's Bedroom, Mu Art Foundation, Eindhoven, 2000
  • Hairy Forearm´s Self Retreat, Feature Inc., New York, 2000
  • Shake the Disease, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, 1999
  • Move 2, New Image Art, Los Angeles, 1998
  • Erotische Fotografie, Kunsthaus, Cologne, 1996
  • 100 photographs, American fine Arts, New York, 1996
  •  â€¨Winter of Love, PS 1, Long Island, 1994



  1. 28 Jun 2005
    Richard Kern features in a project.

    Dress Me Up, Dress Me Down