Richard Kern


Photo of Richard Kern by Olivier Zahm.

Richard Kern is a photographer, filmmaker, and regular contributor to Vice and Purple. His work has been exhibited at MOMA, The Whitney Museum and in more than 50 solo shows around the world. Kern lives and works in New York City and collects Duncan Hannah’s work.

Both your work and Duncan Hannah‘s work functions as a sort of time capsule, documenting the world around you (but in very different ways). What draws you to Hannah’s work?

I like that Duncan paints cars, ships, airplanes, women, etc. in a reverential way–the way men look at and think about these things. The first painting I got from Duncan was of a ship run aground next to some cliffs. I was really excited to have a painting of a boat on my wall. I now have more paintings by him: a Penguin book cover, Tarzan and Jane riding an elephant, a train coming out of a tunnel and numerous women. I need to get a car or airplane.


Duncan Hannah, "Art in England", 2008.

What other artwork do you collect?

I like to trade with people I know or hang out with, so over the years I’ve collected paintings by Rita Ackermann, Dan Colen, Walter Robinson, Lucy McKenzie, Bjarne Melgaard, Dan McCarthy, Dana Schutz, Leo Fitzpatrick and a bunch of other people. I’ve got lots of photos, drawings and prints too.


Duncan Hannah, "Chanbrol", 2011.

Do you collect anything besides art?

My old gallery in Paris (Jousse Seguin) had a lot to do with making Jean Prouvé collectable. After my first show there in 1996, I traded for a bunch of Prouvé furniture. Over the years I’ve sold some of it, but I still have a few tables. I was collecting mid-century stuff and watches in the 90′s but quit around the time I had a kid.


Jean Prouve, "Metropole No. 305 Chair", circa 1950.

You’ve lived in the same East Village apartment for almost 27 years, I’m sure you’ve watched the neighborhood change drastically. How has the art scene in New York shifted for you since the late 80′s?

Yes. I like that art is creeping back into the Lower East Side now. I also like how NYC has three distinct art areas to visit for day trips–Chelsea, LES and Uptown. It’s funny how SoHo isn’t really on the charts these days, ’cause it was the main deal when I moved here in the late 70′s.


Richard Kern, "Lung With Lizard", 2012.

What are your thoughts on contemporary portraiture within the current state of photography now?

My thoughts are all over the place. About art in general I will say there is a lot of crap out there now. Tons. More than there’s ever been. And I’m probably contributing to it.

Any upcoming books, projects or films on the horizon?

My book New York Girls is being reissued by Taschen as a “director’s cut” for it’s 20th anniversary next year. It will contain outtakes from the original sessions. I also have a show at Cabinet in London that opens Feb. 12, 2015.

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