Karen Knorr’s magical world is at Filles du Calvaire

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Pleasures of the Imagination, series CONNOISSEURS, 1986–1988 Courtesy Galerie Les filles du calvaire, Paris


American photographer Karen Knorr is always surprising. In her early career she photographed gentlemen’s clubs in London in black and white and these pictures have not aged a minute. Then she concentrated on shooting stuffed animals in French castles and museums. She travelled to India and spent months in palaces, had a bout in Japan with geishas and is back in London where she lives with her husband. Her French gallery Les Filles du Calvaire, in le Marais, is having a large exhibition of different moments of her life, on two floors under their wonderful glass roof. It is spectacular and not to be missed, until April 29.

Analytical inquiry into the Principles of, Taste Series, COUNTRY LIFE, 1983–1985
Courtesy Galerie Les filles du calvaire, Paris

Her latest work in the show is a large picture set in Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque, a feat in itself for this very feminist artist, and it occupies a whole wall of the upper floor. Spectacular. Another one in black and white “The Lingering Expectations of an Heir”, shows a male peacock on a perfectly mowed lawn watching a stone gate with a cedar tree on the left. It perfectly sums up the English country house. Only a sharp foreign eye could apprehend with such sense of humour the British establishment and its rules!

The Way of Ishq, Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, 2019 Courtesy Galerie Les filles du calvaire, Paris

Every title for every picture shows a great sense of social consciousness and wit and the positioning of animals in museums such as Chiswick House, Osterley Park house and the Dulwich art gallery (my favorite) is a sort of irreverence to official art and society, a questioning to musuems’ authority on the arts. Her work has been shown at Musée du Jeu de Paume and many other French establishments, but never had such a beautiful sum of her different styles and stages in her career had been shown.

The Kings’ Reception, (Château de Chambord), 2006 Series FABLES, 2003–2022, Courtesy Galerie Les filles du calvaire, Paris

From La Fontaine’s fables to Indian Rajasthan decors, from London clubs to French castles, Karen Knorr makes us dream of fabulous decors and constructed illusions. This was the ideal visit on a rainy Friday afternoon. Do not miss it.

Until April 29 at galerie Les Filles du Calvaires, 17 rue des Filles du Calvaire, Paris.

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